Customization and Millennials

Just twenty years ago customization in the consumer and product world didn’t go far beyond, “What color t-shirt do you want?” (With one or two styles to choose from) Or, “What kind of TV dinner do you want: one with a brownie or with fruit?” (Always go for the brownie.)

Gone are the days where it’s cool to look just like your best friend. More and more society is placing value on the unique individual instead of encouraging conformity.  Millennials, the champions of this mindset, are now on track to overtake Baby Boomers as the largest group of consumers.  With this new generation having the majority influence over the consumer market, it is important to know how to market to these unique buyers.

Some businesses have nicknamed millennials “Generation DIY,” a name that is pretty spot-on when referring to this new kind of consumer. Millennials tend to struggle to identify what exactly they want in a product itself, but when given a handful of choices, they have no problem telling you what they don’t want.

If you look around today, in just the food industry alone you will see the evolution of customization is already in full-effect.  If you’re wanting to grab something to eat, the debate is no longer “Italian or Mexican,” it’s about what specific foods are offered at these places (organic or non-organic, home-cooked or imported).  If you’re a craft beer connoisseur, places like DIY breweries allow you to concoct the perfect beverage.  If you’ve got a sweet-tooth, places like Coldstone Creamery and Marble Slab allow you to choose from over fifteen ice cream flavors and let you add as many toppings as you can imagine. If it’s a caffeine buzz you’re after, the ever-popular Starbucks will create a no-whip, non-fat, soymilk, iced-coffee with three ice cubes and exactly two and a half shots of espresso (although you may also get an eye-roll from a disgruntled barista).

Lay's chips, sandwich toppings, ice cream flavors

Other popular eateries that allow Millennials to customize their food include Chipotle, Genghis Grill and MOD Pizza. Restaurants that allow guests to customize their food not only appeal to Millennials more, but they also tend to have a higher customer loyalty rate. Subway is a great example of how customization affects customer retention with a 73% loyalty rate.

With the food industry arguably having a head-start on the whole personalization concept, the product industry isn’t far behind.  Online stores like Zazzle offer customizable products to consumers in just about every category you can think of.  Zazzle has over 300 million products and has disclosed that its annual revenue is in the range of 250 million dollars this year.  Even well-known brands like Nike are in on this trend.  You can visit Nike’s website and create custom apparel or running shoes in a matter of minutes thanks to today’s technology. From the color of your laces, the insole and pattern on the tongue of your shoes, Nike iD allows customers complete customization.

While these personalized Nike’s are at a higher price point, it’s satisfying for customers to get their money’s worth by offering these customized features to choose from.  Let’s not be naïve, it is no coincidence that companies like Zazzle or Nike are hitting it big in a time like this. The trend of customization and expressing your individuality is here to stay.  Some may say it’s because society is more materialistic than it used to be, others believe that expressing individuality is the “in” thing to do these days.

Color swatch and Nike shoes

Whether you’re a foodie or a shopaholic, there’s hardly an excuse for eating the exact same meal daily or wearing an outfit that the majority of your town owns in today’s day and age. In promotions, it’s all about options and Boundless recognizes this. We see that brands are giving consumers more power than ever before and trusting them to make a meaningful experience with it.  The way people take a product and create it as their own, making it unique and special to themselves, those are Brand Love moments, and those are what millennials are yearning for.

Lisa Ghera bio

Check out some custom products Boundless has created for clients in these Creative Stories!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *