Customisation is without doubt one of the trends of the moment in consumer goods.
Wherever you look, consumers want to show that they are different and have a desire if not requirement to be treated differently. Successful brands and retailers are finding ways of enabling consumers to realise these desires in a variety of innovative ways.
One retailer will embroider your initials or name (or your dog’s name) onto your new football boots, one brand will allow you to choose the colour of the straps and the pattern on the footbed of your sandals, while printing your squad number on the back of your shirt has been around for decades.
From a more practical perspective, some run specialists are customising insoles with every pair of running shoes they sell, adding a level of fit and biomechanical variability beyond just the shoes themselves. Elsewhere, online bespoke, or at least semi-bespoke, clothing companies are making trousers (Spoke), shirts (propercloth), and even the humble t-shirt (Son of a Tailor) to a degree of specialisation never seen before, without stepping into a tailors and handing over your monthly salary.
Beyond footbeds though, the sporting goods trade does not have so much open to it to follow this trend. To an extent, our entire industry is built on providing consumers with the right product for them, whether that is through biomechanical analysis, advice on the correct tennis racket with regards to weight or string tension, or even the optimum loft and length of the perfect driver to add to your golf bag. However, this has always been providing the service to maximise performance rather than to offer a level of individuality that a consumer wanted to publicise.
From a brand and retail marketing perspective we seem to have gone in the other direction. Everything is digital, everything is social media and one size fits all. Get an account, find an influencer or two to talk nicely about your brand or store and off you go.
Instagram is a prime place for this homogeneity. Or in plain speaking terms, Band Wagon jumping. Annual days are a great example. Take the recent International Women’s Day for starters. Just about every single brand out there posted something, whether they had any relevance to the purpose or not. Did you see many thought provoking or even amusing posts? For a relatively emotive, celebratory occasion, should that have been so difficult? Valentine’s Day, Pancake Day (apologies, Shrove Tuesday), all are now apparently driven through the nation’s consciousness by social media. It is rife with this stuff.
But why are we accepting this bland uniformity? Why can’t we, as businesses, take our lead from consumers? Why can’t we strive to be different and customise our own marketing to fit our brand or purpose? We need to show what makes us stand out from the competition.
Organisations that know what they stand for, and are proud to shout about the values and causes which resonate with their own unique service or angle, will undoubtedly endure, even in these transient times of likes and shares.