A great piece from Jason Michaels, personalized for fluid marketing professionals:
Just for You
How Personalized Experiences and Products Change How We Shop
Personalized Experiences Defined:
We humans are eager to personalize our experiences. We wrap our phones in pretty cases. We organize our desktops with personal photographs. We categorize our applications in wittily named folders. We curate ourselves on Facebook, Twitter, Xbox Live, Farmville and Second Life. Personalized shopping experiences and goods are simply extensions of our digital, aspirational, or innate selves.
This holiday season I’m giving personalized gifts to most of my family. My Dad will receive customized t-shirts from SilkScreenInk.com. Calendars featuring my kids will come from RedBubble.com. Hand-stamped jewelry for my wife will come from Etsy.com. A friend on Facebook recommended my sister’s gift when she “Liked” an item on ThinkGeek.com. Zazzle.com will print our custom holiday postcard and postage, a family favorite.
Five years ago personalized goods were far and few between. The quality was sub-par and the costs were beyond most gifting budgets. What’s changed? The confluence of social media and technology has enabled the everyday consumer to personalize and share their shopping adventures and customized goods. Here are some of the tools, technologies, and techniques that will power personalization in 2011:
Facebook has a stunning 500 million users, of which nearly 50 percent login daily. To put this in perspective, Facebook is 11 times the population of Australia and 50 million citizens shy of the United States. For Millennials (those born between 1982–1995), Facebook has become the de facto news source for local and current events, and it’s quickly becoming a place in which they interact with brands, companies, as well as shop – or at least get their coupons. I’ll mention Twitter here too, but in its current form it’s less of an affinity and brand-to-consumer relationship builder than Facebook.
A good example of making data portable and “data scraping,” e.g., allowing sites to leverage your social network to customize information, is Etsy’s Gift Guide. Etsy leverages your Facebook network to make finding a great gift ridiculously easy.
Group buying services such as Groupon make saving money easy. You can debate Groupon’s ROI for the retailer, but it’s nothing but a win for consumers. With every Groupon I buy, the Groupon engine is getting smarter about what I like. BTW, I just doubled my money with a Nordstrom Rack/Groupon promotion. Did you get in on that deal?
Amazon’s Price Check and the proliferation of SKU scanning apps should tell you that the consumer is firmly in control. Before they purchase, they’ve likely researched the item online, on mobile, on Facebook, or via text messaging with friends. As an aside, I recommend that you download Pottery Barn Kids’ Halloween Costume application. It allows consumers to snap a picture of their child and then virtually model costumes on screen.
The cost of POD equipment has dropped precipitously in the past 12 months. Having moved to a “razor and blades” model, the ink cost remains high, but the end-consumer doesn’t eat the cost of misprints and damaged goods. The consumer receives a product with a back-story and/or an immediate personal connection. Cafepress.com is a good example.
Relevancy engines will continue to get smarter, synthesizing data in order to deliver experiences and products that matter to you and me. This type of targeting won’t be limited to websites – targeting and “push” technologies will deliver goods and incentives to us on the fly, across websites, mobile and other devices, e.g., Xbox 360.
Storytelling is a human element that has the power to create affinity, repeat sales, and improve search engine optimization. Without a story, you’re selling a collection of things – and things can be commoditized to death in the long run. Don’t have a story behind your company or products? Get one.
How has social media and technology personalized your shopping experiences? We’re eager to hear your story. Tell us. Please comment below or contact me, the author, at: email@example.com.