Henry Ford never actually said to a customer 'you can have any colour you like as long as it's black'. He did ,however, say it to his sales people to stop them asking (and trying to sell) many different variants of the Model T.
Well personalisation has come a long way since then and car manufacturers allow you to select from a wide range of options, plus the ability to choose any paint colour you wish, meaning in today’s market, very few cars have the same specification.
We have also seen the same trend in terms of clothing. Major brands such as Nike allow consumers to ‘build your own’ footwear with colour and material choices for base layer, sole, laces, tongue, upper, logo and even your own logo. Similar personalisation is available across other markets such as printing, fast food and even furniture.
However, at this time, the personalisation of many digital services we use daily lags behind the options available in the physical retail world, such as:
- Financial services force consumers to select from ‘one size fits all’ products rather than allowing consumers to infinitely tune financial products and plans to suit their own needs
- Retail vouchers, although digital and in some cases customer specific do not provide the consumer with the ability to use that voucher to tailor their purchase, resulting in the voucher being restricted to money off and something free
- The utilities sector only currently provide generic tariffs rather than offering personalised tariffs based on usage and time of use, allowing the end user to benefit from changing their usage behaviour.
In my next blog, I’ll talk more about some of the challenges faced by businesses as they look to use data driven business models to disrupt their market and operations. It is the same case for personalisation – namely their outdated and complex IT applications, plus sometimes their lack of vision and organisational culture in terms of seeing what is happening in other sectors as a pre-cursor to their own. But it is only a matter of time until someone from each sector, usually a new entrant, starts to use services such as Internet of Things and analytics to understand customers and offer personalisation of services in rea-time
Consumers are already becoming comfortable with digital customisation through the use of apps, wearables and other devices, all of which influence how they consume digital services.
Mass personalisation will happen and I believe it will become the norm within the next five years. The question is are you developing your digital strategy and building your knowledge of enabling technologies such as IoT and Analytics now so that you are leading the use of personalisation rather than following it?