Why Customization Wins in Millennial Marketing

By: Sean Brenner

What better way to get someone to buy a product than to demonstrate that a product was developed just for them? Sure, there’s nothing really new about custom-made goods, from suits (although Indochino has updated the concept to reach a new demographic) to desserts (but those Sprinkles cupcake vending machines have put a cool new spin on it).

But now, in certain categories, customization is almost a must for engaging millennials, who have come to expect that products, services and experiences will be personalized to suit their tastes and needs. A new report by youth marketing tracker Ypulse puts it this way: “The days of one-size-fits-all are numbered and customization is being taken to the next level.” The same Ypulse report says three-fourths of consumers ages 13 to 34 are interested in purchasing products tailored to their tastes.

It makes sense: This is a generation of consumers who basically grew up being able to order anything they wanted whenever they wanted it, and at a time when the internet has made it as easy to choose the exact specs you want on a Prius as it is to choose the toppings you want on your Domino’s pizza. No waiting for a favorite song to play on the radio when you can get it on YouTube or Spotify in seconds.

Here are a few aspects of the trend that caught our attention:

Personalize marketing
The cosmetics brand Smashbox has drawn attention for its on-point marketing. Per Fast Company, one example was a program that invited YouTube fashion influencers to meet at the company HQ to customize their own lip glosses (and shoot their own videos, naturally). Previously, the brand had gotten consumers to create their own designs for billboards, which Smashbox then showed off in Hollywood the week of the Oscars.

Personalize the experience
Razer, the maker of computers and peripherals aimed primarily at gamers — and a Newbridge client — tailors its live marketing so that experiences and product demos speak to the interests of the consumers at each individual event. So, even if the product lineup stays the same from one event to the next, the interactions change based on each consumer’s passion point. For gamers, the product’s blazing fast speed is a highlight. For music lovers on the other hand, Razer’s chroma keyboard, which can be synced to the beat of their music, is a focal point.

Personalize product
Digiday highlighted the growing success of Mon Purse, which lets online shoppers customize their handbags online — from the material to the design to the monogram — and is on track to take in more than $20 million in revenue this year. The business model, built around letting the customer choose the exact product she wants, is sure to create headaches for traditional retailers operating on a more analog, 20th century platform. So even if totes and clutches aren’t your company’s bag (sorry, had to), it’s a good reminder for marketers: How can you tailor the product, message, marketing and experience to speak to your core?

Or, even better, is there a way you can let them tailor those things for themselves?

The opportunity for personal experiences is one of the reasons events can be such a vital part of the marketing mix. When the brand — using well-trained ambassadors, digital elements like virtual reality or other tactics — can create a custom experience for each person who walks through the event site, the power of the live event is heightened even more.