Driver Number 1: Personalisation and Individualisation – (Or Lessons From A Kebab Shop)

Last week I spoke about how the product development process will change in the immediate future based on five influencing factors. Today I talk about influencing factor 1: Increased need for personalisation and individualisation.

Let’s face it; we’re surrounded by social media. We have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and who know what fresh platform will crop up by the time you finish reading this. With the influx of social media, there comes the inherent pressure. To be accepted. To belong. To be part of a cult. This stems from the desire to find common ground amongst our peers and the society around us.

AS a paradox, this also carries with it, the urge to express our individuality. We’re all individual people, with our own personalities, tastes, choices, desires, needs and wants. Who we are is reflected in how we express ourselves. An inseparable part of this is the products we buy and use. We no longer crave for the latest smart phone or the latest piece of gadget. We want to personalise it, to the point it has to be an extension of who we are. I no longer want my BMW to be a standard Metallic Icy White, I want it to be a Raam’s Wizard White!

Now, the challenge you need to overcome is to balance the desire for personalisation (value addition) with the standardisation of the parts (cost minimisation) that you have to make your products. Let’s look at it with an example that we’re all quite familiar with: the ceremonial night-out kebab!

If you live in Manchester, or anywhere in the country for that matter, the local kebab shop will be a familiar haunt. There are so many of them, specialising in serving a selection of kebabs. Flavourful food apart, I love how they individualise your kebabs.

They have the standard kebab meats, marinades and grilling style, which form your standard parts, let’s say. The personalisation happens with your selection of accompaniments which enhance the flavour of your base product. You can go with a variety of naans or pittas, then again, pick and choose what aspects of a salad you want or don’t want, and the final step is the sauces you’d like on your kebab. My friend and I could be having the same chicken kebab, but with different enhancements to suit our individual tastes!

Three things I want to leave you with today:

  1. The base/core product is always about meeting the requirement/solving the problem/addressing the issue. There can be no compromise on that.
  2. The personalisation comes in the bits that aren’t the base/core product, more often to suit individual taste or for aesthetics.
  3. When you’re engineering and manufacturing products more complex than a kebab, your challenges are different, and you will need specialist support from the likes of Equitus Engineering.

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