May 9, 2006

Customer = Customize

Customer = Customize

C'mon, try it, everyone is doing it... seems to be the corporate theme today. Customization is what I had been dreaming of since I was a wee lad. Painting my G.I. Joes and adding badges and new uniform mods, crazy gluing new panels to my Transformers to get them to the exact ultra coolness that I desired, even putting stickers on my old NES to get that perfect custom look I needed to have. I even wrote an article on this exact topic discussing how all the girls in junior high were so sweet on all my custom bleached Champion sweatshirts. The CONSUMER MASSIAH HAS ARRIVED!

Every company out there is working on some new customizable product, something that they can sell the masses but make every single one of those people feel like the product they have is a one of a kind. Granted some products are simply very difficult to customize but items like clothing, shoes, paint, computers, and yes even cars are all now available to be customized.

I attribute all of this to the Internet. When in history have we been able to log into a site and choose the color, size, fabric, trim, paint, roof, tires, flavor, and whatever else is offered up on a particular product? says about customization and I quote "still the biggest, most promising trend in the world of business." I simply love the definition they posted on the topic its as clear as I have seen it anywhere:

“The phenomenon of corporations creating goods, services and experiences in close cooperation with experienced and creative consumers, tapping into their intellectual capital, and in exchange giving them a direct say in (and rewarding them for) what actually gets produced, manufactured, developed, designed, serviced, or processed.”

Well said!! So companies finally decided that it is the consumers who have all the answers and that we actually do know what the hell we want and not only do we give the corporations the ideas for the products but we get to pay full price for them as well. Does this seem weird to anyone? Basically they tell us, we will let you tell us what you want, we will let you help us build it for you, design it and even market it and then we will let you go pay even more than you would have paid for the product before you customized it, now thats amazing! What a concept!

Lets take a look at the past. You had a tailor who would make you custom clothing based on your exact measurements, you would choose a collar style, cuff style, fabric, color and all the little details that go into making a customized piece of clothing and then he would sew it and deliver it personally to you and you would pay him top dollar for it rather than going to a department store and taking something off the rack. Makes sense?

Now you have companies like Nike, Scion, Fila, Puma and Mini all letting customers customize their products and you have companies like MasterCard, FireFox (Mozilla), L’Oreal and Chevy actually letting people create commercials. Trust me this is only a small list of companies leading the charge. Now that we have identified what is going on, lets ask another question, what does this mean?

The way I see it is that we are all humans, we all have common physical desires, interests and we all more or less fall into specific genres or interest groups, tribes and clans. We cannot escape human nature and its need to progress, to hunt and gather in its most primitive way yet using all of our wonderful technology and progress to drag back the most perfect Bison back to the cave. I use the term Webicratic for my Blog because I want to illustrate how the web is unifying and giving a voice to the people, actually allowing for a visible creative and collective consciousness to occur, so lets term this new wave Consumercratic as in letting the people drive the types of products that enter the market and literally dictate not only how they want them delivered but even how they want them marketed to the people.

Customer to car dealer - "I would like the car in Black, with Silver trim, Red seats, Orange panel, a killer MP3 system, 5.1 speakers, rear wheel drive and by the way tell me that it will make me sexier and faster than anyone else out there." Thanks!

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