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Mass Personalization Could Become the New Way for Retail

The idea of mass personalization is gaining popularity, according to research conducted by business advisory firm, Deloitte.

Thirty-six percent of consumers say they are interested in personalized products or services, with those under 40 showing even more interest (43 percent of 16-24 year olds and 46 percent of 25-30 year olds).

However, Deloitte notes, this desire contradicts with a relatively low take up. Only one in six consumers have ever purchased personalized products or services.

According to Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at the firm, businesses have developed the capabilities to measure what each costumer wants and can combine their resources and processes to provide it. Flexible manufacturing and 3D printing allow for mass personalization at lower costs and give manufacturers an opportunity to rethink their supply chains.

“Businesses are now postponing production until the latest point possible to allow individual customization,” Perkins said. “Beyond the ability to provide more customized products, postponing production can help reduce inventory levels and ultimately increase efficiency. We believe the low take up so far is down to availability, and suggests an advantage for the first mover. Beyond the mass customization of products, personalization is already playing an important role across the market from online recommendations to bespoke suite and custom-built bicycles.”

Customers have made the most personalized purchases in three product categories: Holiday (25 percent of customers), clothing (19 percent) and furniture (18 percent).

“These three categories are where consumers want to actively contribute to the personalization process or add a personal touch. 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 personalized products, 71 percent of them would be prepared to pay a premium,” Perkins added. “However, those businesses who do not offer an element of personalization, risk losing revenue and customer loyalty over the longer term as customers increasingly demand personalization.”