Boomtown | Personalisation
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16 Apr Personalisation

By Andrew MacKenzie

How ‘brand you’ came to be

From cans of Coca-Cola to luxury handbags, marketing is stamping our names on the things we buy, setting us out as unique individuals.

Marketing has moved from a product focus to consumer focus: who they are and how they think.

The power of personalisation was seen in the successful Coca-Cola, ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. Soft drink manufacturers have been experiencing declining sales, but Coca-Cola was able to break the downward trend. By printing individual names on cans, the company saw a 2.5% increase in total sales and soft-drink volume went up by 0.4%.

Even luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Mont Blanc have begun to personalise products.

How we got to personalisation in marketing

The journey from mass production to personalisation has taken over 100 years. Mass production was popularised between 1910 and 1920 by the Ford Motor Company. And with mass production came the idea that consumers prefer products that are widely available and inexpensive.

Come the 1930s, as new products flooded the marketplace, marketers turned their attention to communicating quality and features, not price or availability.

By the 1960s, marketing shifted to the selling concept: aggressive selling and promotions and creating a need, rather than fulfilling a need. 

Customisation and personalisation

There is often confusion around customisation and personalisation. In simple terms, customisation allows a consumer to make small changes to a product or service, from a discrete set of alternatives. For example, picking your optional extras for a new car. Personalisation deals with just one alternative, with unlimited possibilities. For example, stamping your initials in gold on a Louis Vuitton purse.

Attachment theory explains why consumers desire personalisation. Like relationships, consumers often form an emotional bond with a brand. Once a strong bond is formed, consumers will become loyal and engage in positive word-of-mouth promotion.

To increase this bond, brands need to get personal and relevant. If you’ve read How to Win Friends and Influence People you will remember Dale Carnegie’s line: “…a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

And brands use this insight:  whether you see it or hear it, your name, is one of the easiest sounds for your reticular activating system, the area of your brain that filters out irrelevant information,  to hone in on. A product with your name on it creates attachment, and then brands have you for life.