Luxury Product Customisation Boom
Acknowledging the booming millennial appetite for personalisation, shrewd luxury retailers are investing in new modes of customisation, both on and offline.
Last year, 45% of shoppers spent money on personalising a product or experience (Forrester, 2015). Bolstering that appetite, technological advances are making customisation increasingly affordable – presenting a massive opportunity for brands to engage with the 25% of consumers willing to pay a premium price (+20%), or the 45% who are happy to wait longer to get their personalised products (Deloitte, 2015).
We highlight some of the best recent examples.
- Bespoke Scent: French perfume/cosmetics giant Guerlain has launched a fragrance-specific flagship in Paris dedicated to providing bespoke concoctions created within a personalised and also educational olfactory experience. A digitised ‘perfume organ’ (the mechanical tool it uses for scent creation) allows customers to design a personal scent profile from Guerlain’s library of nearly 100 fragrances – all of which are preserved in the store’s own perfume cellar – or create their own custom scent in collaboration with an expert perfumer. Consumers can choose the bottle colour and neck nodes, plus the tissue paper and tape the bottle is wrapped in. Additionally, the bottles can be engraved and the tape embellished with embroidered initials.
- Wow Box: English accessories designer Anya Hindmarch has released ‘giftable’ leather keepsake caskets dubbed ‘Wow’ boxes – 10 oversized styles straddling occasions including hen nights, weddings and even mid-life crises. After colour and size are selected, customers can inscribe the box with an embossed nameplate or handwritten message. It’s then filled with witty accessories such as handwritten notes, stickers and coloured golf balls. Unlike Hindmarch's lauded 2014 initiative that allowed shoppers to digitally customise leather bags with stickers selected online, the scheme is in-store only for extra exclusivity.
- Digital Messaging, Trackable Stationery: Department store chain Barneys New York has launched a digital stationery platform in collaboration with New York-based engraved stationer Connor. Users create customised cards or invitations from a menu of options (including Barneys-specific cards) and edit the font, colour and formatting. As a key follow-on, users can keep track of RSVPs for guest lists attached to any invites sent through a dedicated management option. In addition to the e-cards, Barneys has partnered with Bond – an NY-based note-sending service that translates texts into physical handwritten notes. After selecting a font, typed-in messages will be written onto Connor stationery in pen, stamped and mailed to the recipient – all for $9.99.
- Handbag Add-On: Italian fashion brand Fendi is letting fans personalise its handbags with a new range of interchangeable straps in a programme dubbed ‘Strap You’. Inspired by changeable watchstraps, the add-ons retail from $500-800 and can be fixed to a number of handbag styles. Consumers can explore the various options via a strap-match generator on the brand’s website.
- Moving Mainstream, Street Style: The appetite is also holding firm in the mainstream sector. US footwear brand Converse has extended its e-customisation service into an in-store personalisation workshop called ‘Blank Canvas’ in its SoHo, NY flagship, where visitors co-create their shoes with a dedicated designer.
Located in the basement, the designer – who assists with colour matching, placement and configuration details – is equipped with tablets displaying the whole range of available fonts, patterns, logos and images that can be printed onto the sneaker (personal images can also be used if sent to the shop via email). More extravagant styles include coloured shoelaces and different studs or eyelets. The customised shoes, which retail at an additional $25-45 on top of the base product price, are personalised on-site with a printing press and delivered the same day.