The “Share a Coke” initiative launched in 2014 by Coca-Cola effectively replaced the typical Coca-Cola logo with some of the world’s most common first names. People around the world share the same name, but that didn’t stop the success of the initiative because of customers flooding grocery trying to find their names in cans.
Our names give us uniqueness, and most of the time, we want a customized and personal experience with the products we buy. Why do we want an individualized product besides the one size fits all approach of marketing? What makes personalization speak volumes to us consumers?
Identity vs. Function
Consumers want individualized products because of one or both of these reasons: Identity and functionality. A person may choose to buy a pair of shoes because the color choices strike him (identity) or another person wanting to buy a particular shoe because of his preference for a certain sport (function). Identity and Function play important roles in personalization through the following:
Expressing Individual Preferences. We want to be unique, from the cars we drive to the clothes we wear. People modify their cars with various body kits and parts with specific preferences, such as spoiler sizes, skirts, and parts produced from metals cut with the finest slit coils and metal processing techniques.
Another example would be the Share a Coke initiative mentioned earlier, highlighting individual identities and preferences.
- Conveying Identities. Irn-Bru, the national soft drink of Scotland, featured limited-edition bottles that catered to Scottish clans. People choose and continue to buy products because of their ties to their cultural identities and how brands continue to support them.
- Strengthening Relationships. One of Heinz’s famous initiatives involved buyers giving loved ones personalized cans of soup, while Pepsi started a campaign where customers communicated through packs containing emojis. A person may be gifted with their names engraved on a watch or pen. These personal touches are meant for sharing and making people, and loved ones feel special, no matter how big or small.
- Catering to Specific Needs. Everyone is different, so people will inevitably have varying nutritional needs. Some examples include Gatorade’s hydration system, which provides personalized ways of hydrating, and restaurant chains such as Subway that encourage customers to choose what goes into their food, especially for those with different diet preferences and allergies.
- Overwhelmed with Choices. The wide array of consumer brands and products have shown to be overwhelming for some, which may lead to choice paralysis and indecisiveness. To answer the paradox of choice, companies have utilized data observed to find out consumer preferences and what people like and dislike. Spotify and Apple Music, for example, observe consumer behavior and preferences by creating personalized playlists.
Relevance to the Market and Consumers
Consumers’ preferences continue to grow and evolve over time, as well as cultural norms and identities. By observing the psychological and environmental aspects of the consumer, retailers can better market and sell products to more populations and see an improvement in business, as well as stay relevant and marketable.
Individualized products and can give people a unique experience beyond what they offer. They give consumers options and choices depending on their needs and preferences while adding more value to the service being provided.
A can of Coke, for instance, does not just quench your thirst, but can also be a small token of appreciation for a friend whose name is coincidentally printed in the can.