From Burgers to shoes, and gadgets to cars, consumers are becoming accustomed to having it their way.

Who’s Personalizing?

The auto industry has been a leader in the space of “build your own” on their websites, allowing potential customers to choose colors, options, etc. so that they can see what their potential new car might look like.

Others have taken this concept further. During the holiday season, I designed and bought a pair of Converse sneakers for my girlfriend. They are a one-off design, complete with their own text logo. No one else has these shoes, and they cost the same as a regular pair of Converse. Of course, when she got them she was delighted because they were unique to her. Nike offers a similar service for their sports shoes.

Gelaskins is a company that produces protective cases for laptops, phones, tablets and other gadgets. They have a multitude of designs that you can choose from, and they also allow you to upload your own artwork. From pictures of pets to your company logo, you can identify your gadgets as being yours.

Consumer Expectations Are Changing

Personalization is becoming the expectation of the modern consumer. They want to shop for products that not only perform the function they were designed for, but they also want products that have some sense of uniqueness to them.

Consumers want products to extend their personality into the world and mark them as someone different.

Using Personalization in Your Small Business

Here is the challenge as a small business — how can you provide that sense of uniqueness to each of your customers? Can you make a custom product? Can you personalize your service to fit the individual needs of your customers and still make a profit?

As we all know, generic is both easier and cheaper; mass produced provides more opportunity for profit than custom made. Which is why most of us buy our clothes off the rack and not from tailors. So how do you build that sense of individuality into your business and make each of your customers feel as though they are getting a custom service?

Knowing your customers is the first step. You need to find out what they need and what they would be willing to pay to have that product or service completely tailored to them. You might be surprised to find that they are willing to spend more than you think. It may even be more than enough to make it profitable for you to offer that personalization.

Have you thought about offering personalized products or services in your small business?