Is Bespoke Better?

“We used to want what everyone else had but now we define ourselves by how different we are.” I came across this quote last year just after I had launched Flowerfox and it really resonated with me. As the founder of a marketplace selling artisanal, bespoke flowers and gifts, I knew all too well just how much customers were yearning for the unique and moving away from the mainstream. By Leah Pooley CEO Flowerfox

There’s no doubt about it, craft is cool. From beer to coffee, no one wants to  buy  from the big guys anymore. As consumers move towards transparency, sustainability and a  desire to be more ethically conscious in their purchase decisions, global brands are taking note and are transforming to remain relevant. Take Carlsburg who spent $15 million rebranding last year to look more bespoke, the introduction of McDonalds’ Gourmet Creations range, and handcrafted goods marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon Handmade continuing to dominate.

So why this sudden interest in bespoke? Well actually, it’s not so sudden. There has been a shift towards the individualised customer and handmade products since the 1960s, however, then they were an exclusive luxury reserved for the rich as an indicator of signified status. In 2018, customised products aren’t just for the elite, they are accessible to everyone and most of us just can’t get enough.

Deloitte’s recent consumer review ‘Made to order. The rise of mass popularisation’ states that 50% of people are interested in customised products and services, and 1 in 5 would be willing to pay up to 20% more for it.

Millennials are the main drivers of this trend as they increasingly place value on authenticity, creativity and buying local. The internet has also had a big role to play in this, with young consumers having higher expectations when it comes to personalisation.

Another interesting trend is that more of us want to be involved in the creative and production process. Take CustomMade, where customers have the chance to work with the maker and be involved in the design of their product, or Moonpig which allows you to customise your greeting card. People want to be involved in the creation of the thing they’re paying for. It adds to the customer experience and makes it unique.

So why are we willing to pay a premium for bespoke?

Quality – when a maker spends the time and care handcrafting a product especially for you, it’s likely to last longer than something from a production line.

Unique – no one wants to keep up with the Joneses anymore. They’re old news! People want things that stand out and complement their own individuality.

Personalisation – it’s worth it to pay a little extra for something if it can better meet your needs.

Greener – buying local, handmade goods means no shipping and less energy produced.

More valuable – handmade products are worth more as people perceive them to be more authentic, which means they hold more value in society.

A fuller experience – people want to understand the story behind what they’re buying. They want to meet the maker and be part of the journey.

Feel good factor – not only do people get bragging rights over something beautiful and custom made just for them, they feel good knowing they’ve invested in their own community rather than a faceless global corporation.

Businesses not embracing some level of personalisation in their products will need to adapt their business models or risk losing revenue and loyalty. So what can brands do to stay relevant as customers move away from the production line?

  • Experiment with introducing a small amount personalisation to your product range to see what sort of traction you get. If your customers want it, you know you’re onto something and it’s worth investing in
  • Utilise the customer data you have and personalise your customers’ experience. Deloitte identified that 42% of customers are willing to hand over their data for personalisation
  • Tell your story and humanise your brand. Share your purpose, your why and your passion so people can be part of your journey. Don’t just make this up though. Be authentic or your customers will see right through you
  • Partner with popular local companies selling artisanal products and leverage their communities. You will no doubt help them too by letting them leverage yours
  • Be where your customer is, which might mean you need to divert from your traditional mainstream media approach. Attend design markets, farmers markets, art shows and other places where you can build relationships at a grassroots level
  • Build a community around your product and get people talking about it. The best way to entice millennials is by showing them that other people value and trust your brand
  • Merge your offline and online activity to create a unique experience. A Suit That Fits sells made to order suits online but still sends you material samples and someone to take your measurements
  • Be up to date with new manufacturing and distribution technologies. These can help you achieve mass customisation without needing to compromise on efficiency and cost
  • Utilise your customers’ data to predict what they want and adapt your operations to respond to their needs
  • Be as sustainable as possible and tell your customers what you’re doing to minimise your impact
  • Most importantly, produce a quality product that people want, be transparent and never stop listening to your customers. They will tell you exactly what they want from you.

Flowerfox is a curated online marketplace connecting flower buyers to independent boutique florists. Flowerfox is passionate about supporting local businesses and aims to provide local florists with an easy way to sell more online so they can compete against large online only retailers.

Business First is a peer-to-peer magazine: written by CEOs and other high level executives, with interviews with some of the country’s best leaders.

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