Made to order: Why we personalize our purchases

June 15, 2018

Do you like using products that have a personal touch, in terms of color, design, initials, or even taste? Just three years ago, only 17% of U.S. consumers ever had purchased a personalized sneaker, technology product, meal, vacation, or household appliance. However, YouGov reports that, the so-called “personalization economy” has experienced a major increase in demand. Today, at least one in four Americans (26%) say that they have added a personal touch to a product, either for themselves or someone else.

Why personalize? According to the researchers, there are five major reasons why consumers take this approach—among them:

  1. To design a product to meet a specific need (types of materials, shape, size, duration);
  2. To identify a product as “belonging to me;”
  3. To design something just for fun;
  4. To feel pride in creating/designing something;
  5. To demonstrate creativity; or
  6. To stand out from other people.

Among those who create their own unique products, sneakers (29%) and other forms of apparel are tops for personalization, tied by food and beverages (29%); and followed by technology products (27%), vacation and travel experiences (25%), and household goods (22%).

What’s more, personalizers can be identified by their age and personality traits. They are generally younger (40% Millennials), highly educated (30%), and have disposable income to spend (31%). Indeed, nearly half of this group (46%) say that they would be willing to pay more for an individualized product; which enables brands to market to them at a premium.

In addition, most personalizers could be described as social, outgoing, and optimistic, according to YouGov.

Data on the online behaviors of this particular consumer segment is rich, YouGov says. It demonstrates that personalizers aren’t simply tech-savvy—they strive to be early adopters of technology. That may explain why they’re more likely to be a part of the ever-growing live streaming audience. Live streaming may not be new, but fueled by social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, and Twitch, the format has been reinvigorated by a surge of mobile users. Personalizers tend to use their smartphones (38%) most of all of their devices and a majority (62%) say they watch live streams.

Given that personalizers tend to be social and that the heart of a live streaming channel is its community, the two seem to go hand-in-hand. It’s also an interactive platform that allows brands to get immediate, real-time data about their viewers.

What’s more, compared to people who have never done so, personalizers are more likely to go to movie theaters, listen to online radio, or play games on a console. A multi-platform approach may prove the best way to stay connected with these digital natives.

Finally, the researchers believe, the personalization economy will continue to grow and shape what consumers expect from products and services. Whether a brand already offers personalization or is still testing the waters, looking to what makes the consumer tick is the key.

From an opportunity perspective, they say, brands can get closer to their customers by using personalization as a transformative tool—one that turns a product into a shared experience using a brand’s resources and consumer’s sense of identity.

Research contact: ted.marzilli@yougov.com

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