We currently live in a world that is rife with customisation (or co-creation); that much is undeniable – whilst it is superfluous to pinpoint the exact moment when this state of mind came into being; it is apparent that people are now moving away from the standardised and mass produced goods linked with the industrial revolution.
The modern consumer recognises that the one-size-fits-all approach is not a positive attribute. People have very specific needs and have an innate desire to influence exactly what it is that they are getting for their money.
Social media has made it extremely easy for self-expression and that trend has carried over into real life – Consumers are now embedded within the design process; we can customise our vehicles, design our clothes and alter the features in our laptops. One of the more recent and most prominent forms of customisation lies in the form of mobile apps, whilst you may buy the same platform as others; the contents are going to be entirely unique. If you go online now you will likely find a multitude of variations available for almost any product you are thinking of buying.
Customisation has been a domineering influence in many industries; I will relate it to the industries that I find most interesting – the clothing, car and food industry…
Customisation in Clothing: I am sure I am not the only one that has experienced a time when you have noticed someone wearing something identical to you and immediately thought “Oh No!”
It may be something that fills you with dread but, fortunately, customisation in clothing helps ensure that these kinds of occurrences never happen again. The rise of vintage clothing is just one of the trends that demonstrate people’s unwillingness to wear the same thing as anyone else, which is why customisation is being tipped as the next big thing in fashion by big brands – Kate carter of The Guardian explains it the best when she says:
“you can now build your own Hermes belt, bling up your Moet & Chandon, [and] create your own Ralph Lauren polo shirt”
This trend has commonly been said to have been pioneered by Levis with its “personalised pair” campaign back in 1995 – this campaign was the result of many women expressing dissatisfaction with the fit of their jeans. Here they allowed customers to choose from a huge variety of finishes, fabrics and colours, it may not have lasted but it did pave the way for other companies to follow suit. The NikeiD campaign is an example of one of those companies that took inspiration from Levis, creating a very successful campaign that allows customers to customise their shoes online.
Customisation in Cars: The first customised cars were said to have been pre-World War II, taken apart and reassembled by hand, all in a time where cars were generally homogeneous in appearance – even as early as then there was a glaringly obvious demand for personalisation in vehicles. Flash forward to 2013 and you will see that you can customise just about any component of a car online, see Ford for example. Accessories are also a form of customisation that can save customers a great deal of money, often cars come with a sub-par stereo or an undesirable wing mirror, it no longer costs an arm and a leg to get the exact car that you want, you can often add on everything that you desire post-sale for a fraction of the cost through companies like the highly recommended Less 4 Spares (www.less4spares.co.uk). One of the most recent innovations and what I would call the ultimate form of personalisation is the MotorMood an accessory that you place in the rear window and one that changes expression depending on your mood! Cars are one of the most significant and costly investments you will make in your lifetime, so why not truly make it your own? You wouldn’t choose not to decorate your house so there is no reason to waste the potential of your car.
Customisation in Food: The first time a campaign was launched around the concept of fully customising your take-away food was in the early 1970s with the very famous ‘Have it Your Way’ campaign, you can watch the advert on YouTube here – they provided a flexibility that other restaurants simply didn’t, having full input into the meal, getting rid of the things you like and adding things you do. Starbucks have taken the customisation to another level entirely, they have nearly limitless selection – you can request anything, really! No cream, no sugar and no sauce – people can have exactly to the finest detail, and that is what drives people to their cafes.
All in all, customisation has is only going to become more and more popular, its uprising is showing no signs of slowing down. Customisation really allows you to express yourself and adds an immeasurable amount of value to your purchases, only providing you with what you want so you aren’t paying for what you don’t need.