Personalisation is a growing trend in the retail market, and one which has not yet been fully exploited.
Findings from Ebeltoft Group, identify that over half of consumers and two thirds of millennials are interested in personalised products. Another survey found that half of consumers believe customised products make great gifts. The rise of gifting culture, innovation in gifting options, technological advancements and expanding online distribution channels, have all facilitated the growth in personalised gifts.
Online has arguably been the largest facilitator of personalisation. Several online businesses including Notonthehighstreet, Prezzybox, GettingPersonal, FunkyPigeon, Moonpig and Boomf are offering a diverse range of customisable products including greeting cards, food and drink, homewares, jewellery, books, prints and flowers.
Online ranges are significantly larger than those found in store and consumers are able to both browse and trial a multitude of options. Given the personal nature of customised gifts, products are often non-refundable as the resale options are limited, so there is huge benefit for consumers in being able to preview their gifts before making a purchase.
While over half of consumers may be interested in personalising products, only half of these have personalised a product in a retail store within the last 12 months. Luxury brands such Aspinal of London have offered complementary embossing and engraving on their products for decades however mass-market brands, across a range of merchandise groups are increasingly now offering this service on gift items: Next, Kikki K (seen above), Oasis and H&M Home are all examples. The problem is that there is huge variation in in-store execution and the options can be limited. Some of the services are poorly advertised, with the personalisation stations hidden out of the way, which means it can feel like a token attempt at offering a more experiential service.
The benefits however are two-fold:
For consumers, personalisation appeals to the desire for authenticity, individuality and engagement (particularly younger generations). Integrating online and offline platforms means consumers can engage in the manufacturing process, increasing the relevance of products to consumers.
Consumers will also form emotional connections to personalised products, compounding the already emotive process of giving and receiving gifts. For businesses, personalisation can therefore strengthen customer and brand relationships. It is also potentially lucrative. It is a relatively low-cost service to provide, yet customers are prepared to pay a premium (up to 20% more) for personalised products.
The challenge for retailers is going to be how to optimise this service. Gift items are well suited to personalisation and offering this service undeniably presents retailers with an opportunity to differentiate their products and provide an experiential offer. However, retailers need to promote the service, provide a streamlined process, preferably bridging online and offline and offer a substantial enough customisable product range, for personalisation to become an integrated and well utilised part of the proposition.