Nike ID lets athletes customise everything from the laces to the midsole

Nike ID lets athletes customise everything from the laces to the midsole

Mass personalisation is finally becoming a reality, a new survey suggests, with one in three consumers wanting personalised products or services, and clothing one of the top categories for adding a personal touch.

In the latest consumer survey by business advisory firm Deloitte, 36% of respondents said they are interested in personalised products or services. Those under 40 are more interested, with 43% of 16-24 year olds and 46% of 25-30 year olds attracted to personalised goods and services.

That said, this desire contrasts with a relatively low take up so far – with only one in six of consumers having bought these products or services.

The low take up so far could be down to availability, believes Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at Deloitte – and suggests an advantage for the first mover.

"Beyond the mass customisation of products, personalisation is already playing an important role across the market from online recommendations to bespoke suits and custom-built bicycles," he adds.

The three product categories where customers have already made the most personalised purchases and want to actively contribute to the process are holidays (25% of customers), clothing (19%) and furniture (18%). Footwear comes in at seventh position, with 15% of consumers having made a personalised purchase here.

But 64% of consumers said they were aware of customisation in clothing, and 56% in footwear. Furthermore, while 41% of the total surveyed said they were interested in personalised clothing, this increased to 53% of the 16-24 age group and 50% of the 25-39 age group, but slipped to 38% and 32% of the 40-54 and 55+ groups respectively.

"If successful, businesses can simplify their range and benefit from more predictable levels of demand, and may even command a price premium. Of the consumers who expressed an interest in personalised products, 71% of them would be prepared to pay a premium," Perkins adds.

"However, those businesses who do not offer an element of personalisation, risk losing revenue and customer loyalty over the longer term as customers increasingly demand personalisation."

While personalisation can help improve consumer traffic and conversion, it might require a rethink of business operations.

"Businesses have not only developed the capabilities to measure specifically what each individual consumer wants, they are now in a position to link their processes and resources to provide it," explains Perkins. "Flexible manufacturing and 3D printing enable mass personalisation at lower costs, allowing manufacturers to rethink their supply chains radically."

He adds: "Businesses are now postponing production until the latest point possible to allow individual customisation. Beyond the ability to provide more customised products, postponing production can help reduce inventory levels and ultimately increase efficiency.

Besides investing in the technologies to deliver customised products, companies also need to consider their analytics capabilities.

The growing use of analytics means that product and service providers are getting better at knowing what consumers want – and do not want – and are adapting their operations to respond accordingly. Depending on the degree of personalisation offered, analytics tools are critical in matching the right consumer to the right outcome.