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April 11, 2021

When the customer makes the choices on the brand’s behalf

Questione di connessione

It is a given fact that 2020 was the year of the digital. Digitalisation has proven to be essential to all economic sectors and to deal with the distancing imposed by the lockdown. A recent report by the market leader in corporate business services KPMG states that 80% of the large international companies have accelerated their digitalisation processes. 
Even without considering the economic aspect, digital technology has allowed us to stay in contact with the outside world when all physical contact was forbidden by the lockdown. 

The human aspect of products has never been so important

A sense of connection has become essential for users who are increasingly aware of and sensitive to ethical and social issues. This attitude extends to brands that have stepped up their focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) aspects in line with consumers’ direct involving in choosing brands. 

The pandemic has increased the time spent online and given life to a more knowledgeable and scrupulous consumer. The “prosumer” (producer+consumer) is no passive consumer but rather an active participant involved to a certain degree in the production process. 
An excellent example of this is the recent initiative launched for the Milan – Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The organisers left the choice of the official logo up to the users who could vote for one of two options on the website https://www.milanocortina2026.org/ before 21 March 2021. This represented a real shared branding project for an international event highlighting the importance and growing role played by people in their interaction with brands and companies. Alberto Tomba, who presented one of the two logos at the Ariston Theatre in Sanremo, succinctly explained this concept: “I really hope that these games will belong to all the Italians. We will all take part in an exciting adventure starting now: for the first time, the Italian people have been invited to pick the Olympics Games logo, so vote and may the best logo win”.

By involving the users in choosing the Olympics logo, the Games belong to everyone

Consumer involvement is increasingly becoming product personalisation. The human aspect is now fundamental in the brand-product relationship and companies can show customers that they understand them by offering personalisation. Coca-Cola has demonstrated this successfully. In 2013, the global beverages giant launched the advertising campaign “Share a Coke” in Italy replacing its iconic logo on bottles and cans with the most common Italian first names. The main objective was to share photos of the product on social media. Coca-Cola literally called its public by name, a banal but very effective tool: the sharing of a name with a brand and all its consumers. 

Prosumers want to play an active role

Another even more extreme example of this personalisation strategy is Amazon. Its new project Build it allows consumers to be involved directly in creating products in a very simple process: Amazon regularly presents new product concepts on its platform and users can chose what to create and can pre-order that product. If a concept reaches its pre-order target within one month, Amazon will start to build it.

Key trends of 2021 thanks to the pandemic are personalisation and consumer centricity, which are not new concepts given that our western culture is imbued with the culture of individualism and individuality. Many companies are moving towards greater differentiation for individual consumers convinced that each contact point should be personalised. However, this could mean that a brand loses its identity and becomes the mere reflection of the desires and tastes of its customers. Trying too hard to personalise to respond to customer needs could lead to the loss of a brand’s added value. In order for a brand to have a visible identity, it cannot stand for everything or everybody. This exclusiveness could be lost in the move towards personalisation.

Acceptance of all identities means losing your own

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