I wanted to pose the following question to brands – do you want the theatre of an in-store pop up that can handle limited volumes of personalised products while the customer waits OR do you want high volume sales that can only come from an online activation nationwide?

theater marquee-Richard Askam

In the brave new world of the digital economy where consumer packaged goods are increasingly sold online and direct to consumers, it is becoming harder to get the attention of those shoppers and as a result, brands are having to try harder to stand out. Of course personalisation as a device offers brands a whole new opportunity, the chance to engage directly with their consumers – a relationship traditionally given away to a re-seller, allowing the 3rd party retailer to harvest the data that comes from an e-transaction and use this to engage with the consumer leaving the brand a little in the dark about what consumers actually want.

And we are a funny bunch us consumers – in fact if you give us a simple question to answer as a means of research, the chances are we will give you the answer you don’t expect. When asked to name an Artic Exploration Vessel – we the British Public came up with Boaty McBoatface, I bet no-one was expecting that. My point here is, personalisation allows brands to get closer than they have ever been before to their consumer.

Sometimes this direct approach can hurt a brand – Nutella refused an order for a personalised jar in Australia because the little girl’s name was Isis and it became a social media sensation. Within the carefully curated database of 550,000 names for the “ShareaCoke” online campaign – Coca-Cola wouldn’t let anyone put the name Pepsi on their bottles!

But by personalising or customising products, this direct approach can be used by brands as a device to understand their consumers better and thereby inform their product development and the marketing of them. If you create an environment for a consumer where they believe that the products are for them – rather than just the ones that they are allowed to choose from – then what happens, as it did to Coke – sales go up!

So… do you want in-store entertainment or online volume?

One of the issues with personalised products and customised products is the desire of brands to allow customers to get them done in-store. Best selling food brand Nutella did this to an extent in 2014 and 2015 by having a pop up store in Selfridges, London but for me the entertainment value of this was lost in the execution of it. One of the major advantages and value points of personalisation is receiving the product, ideally gift boxed, and having that moment of joy when you are holding an iconic product in your hand that has your name on it. If you have stood in a queue for up to 2 hours, got to the front and watched somebody type your name into a computer, press print, lick the label in front of you and stick it on a jar of Nutella – then charge you twice the price for the privilege – then for me that has no value at all, in fact quite the opposite. So for me, online is the way to do this effectively – mainly because you never see the queue you are in but also, it keeps the experience personal to you and so the buyer gets added value as does the recipient and of course the brand gets volume sales.


Richard-Askam-print media centrRichard Askam is an accomplished speaker and successful entrepreneur who now shares his vast experience with other organisations, and individuals, keen to succeed in our ever-changing world. Key topics include: developing brand strategy, customer engagement, acceptance of failure, employee development, understanding (and sometimes avoiding) new technology and, of course, how to treat your customers personally. His tailored presentations will assist any audience with both their immediate and long-term challenges.

Connect with Richard: website / Twitter @richardaskam1 / LinkedIn / richard@richardaskam.com

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