It’s not about you

For marketing to work these days, the personal touch is often required.

by Mark Tungate , Adforum

This is the age of self-activation, self-awareness and the selfie. So how can brands appeal to the new “me” generation? With customisation, of course. Every where we look right now, brands are offering the personal touch.

The trend goes much further than digital technology. Recently we met a Dior skincare executive who told us that personalisation will be a key future driver of his business. The bacteria, fungi and other flora and fauna living on our skin – sorry, but it’s true – also known as the “microbiome”, have an impact on the way we react to creams, perfumes and cosmetics. What if experts could analyse our microbiome and develop products specifically tailored to it? Dior, among others, is working on just that.

You read it here first. You can also read about it here, in Chemical & Engineering News, if you’re so inclined


Meanwhile, back in the digital world, brands are using technology to create personalised experiences for consumers. One of the pioneers in the field is Nike. While the shoemaker is terrific at design in its own right, it also allows consumers to create their own sneakers via its NikeID system.

Coca-Cola recognised the importance of the personal touch when it began branding its bottles with names. If your own name doesn’t crop up, you can customize a bottle (or one for your friend) on the brand’s website In the meantime take a look at this delightfully sunny spot from the summer of 17.

But why stop at shoes and soft drinks? Many automobile manufacturers now enable you to customize your next car online. MINI, always at the forefront of fun, now offers “more than ten million combinations” to guarantee a truly unique vehicle. That way, you can imagine you’re John Cooper, the designer who famously put MINI on the race tracks – as depicted in this great new spot by Jung Von Matt.

Facial recognition software enables brands to “recognise” consumers. At the end of 2016, KFC installed the technology in one of its restaurants in Beijing. The computer could not only make meal suggestions based on age and gender but – after storing the results of a facial scan – recognise regular clients.

Airline boarding cards may soon be made obsolete by facial recognition. Meanwhile, according to Business Insider, Unilever has been using similar technology from “digital human resources providers” Pymetrics and HireVue to interview job candidates. The technology analyses “keywords, intonation, and body language” to decide whether the candidate is ready for a second interview – this time with a human being.

Beyond facial recognition, you may remember what happened when tour operator Momondo offered to organise a trip for customers based on their DNA. Perhaps more interesting than the idea itself was this widely-awarded online film from Danish agency &Co explaining the concept.

Personalised marketing is here to stay. We’re familiar with the way Amazon collects details of our purchases to sell us similar products in the future. Similarly, we know that “big data” can help brands and retailers keep tabs on us at various “life stages”. US retailer Target apparently knows when women are pregnant based on their purchases of unscented lotion and vitamin supplements.

It sounds intrusive, but many of today’s customers want to feel unique – and important. Once upon a time there was a badge that read: “It’s Sinatra’s world, we just live in it.” But celebrities are no longer gods, and brands even less so. That badge should now read: “It’s MY world, and the rest of you just live in it.”