What’s in it for me? That’s the age-old question that every shopper wants to know.
To address this fundamental and unrelenting question, progressive retailers are turning to mass personalization and mass customization for answers.
According to Investopedia, mass customization is a marketing and manufacturing technique which combines the flexibility and personalization of custom-made products with the low unit costs associated with mass production. Other names for mass customization include made-to-order or built-to-order.
Mass customization may apply to many fields, but many connect it to the retail industry. Software creators use this method to include software-based product configurations which enable end users to add or change specific functions of a core product.
For example, a startup eyewear manufacturer that uses a seemingly benign form of facial recognition to make custom fitting glasses…
Topology Eyewear Makes Glasses That Fit Your Face
Topology’s custom-tailored eyewear is made from scratch for one person at a time, based on 2000+ measurements from a simple face scan. Customers download the company’s App and the process of making a custom fitting pair of eyeglasses begins.
All the frames cost $349. Lenses are priced separately.
Every Topology frame is made from scratch in downtown San Francisco, California under the watchful eye of the founder and CEO, Eric Varady.
“I wanted to solve a problem for myself,” he said. “I have kind of a large nose and my ears are set back a little. I couldn’t find glasses that fit.”
Topology’s solution is an app that scans your head, figuring out exactly how long the arms should be, how large or small the bridge should be, how wide the frames should be, how the lenses should work.
Where Does Mass Personalization Enter the Picture?
The promise of mass personalization is mostly unfulfilled today. An email may come to your inbox with your name on it, and it may even arrive on an optimal day for you to read it, but that’s still surface knowledge, at best.
Can you think of a brand that truly knows you? Your mechanic or barista or barber might know you, but your favorite Big Box store, restaurant, and grocery store does not know you. You may have a loyalty card at these places, but that’s not knowing, that’s low-level gamification.
Part of the challenge in offering mass customization in the brand messaging arena is getting to know the prospective customer well enough to make custom offers without creeping the person out.
What might motivate a person to opt-in and volunteer their data? Would a price promotion be enough of a lure? Money talks. How about a chance to meet other customers in real life? People are not numbers, and they’re not personas in a strategy deck. People are complex individuals with a universal desire to be recognized and connected to other people. Brands are in the ideal place to step up and do both.