Christmas may be long gone but, as the number of ASOS packages delivered every week to the AD office can attest, the shopping season never really ends. And whether it’s online or in-store, we all know shopping can be a real nightmare, especially when you’re looking for gifts for your nearest and dearest. The issue is certainly not a lack of ideas – these days it’s more a case of being overwhelmed with choice, as we scroll aimlessly through rows of items on our smartphone screens, or dart from store to store on our local High Street in search of the perfect gift.
But shouldn’t the whole gift-giving process be enjoyable? Maybe the answer lies not in the way we shop, but what we shop for. Perhaps the presents we tend to buy are a little generic, making for a rather monotonous shopping experience, which goes a long way to explain why more people are gravitating towards personalised gifts.
When you think about it, there are so many reasons why personalisation has become so popular. For starters, it shows that you have put some actual thought into choosing a gift – or, at the very least, it will give the recipient the impression that you have (thank you, notonthehighstreet.com). Secondly, no one else will receive the exact same gift – they might get the same book, the same frame or the same necklace, but the personal element (an image, a message, a pair of initials) will bestow a unique quality and sense of exclusivity that few other gifts can match. But more importantly, it gives the chance to surprise someone close to you with something that they are likely to keep for a very long time.
A quick survey around the office proved that I am not the only one to have embraced the wonders of personalisation. A few members of the AD team proudly display personalised calendars on their desks, featuring family portraits and snaps from sun-drenched holidays. One colleague received from her partner a leather-bound diary with her initials engraved; another gave his son a scooter with a bespoke design adorning the deck and handles; one even treated her husband for his birthday to a box of M&Ms with his name and the number “30” printed on each individual sweet.
However, the item that really made me appreciate both the delightful qualities and the unique possibilities of print personalisation was a book that I bought for my son last Christmas. Published by Wonderbly (the independent business behind the acclaimed The Little Boy/Girl Who Lost His/Her Name titles) My Golden Ticket is a spin-off of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory franchise. The book is a creatively illustrated scrap book that details a child’s experience touring Willy Wonka’s legendary chocolate factory.
When placing my order on the Wonderbly website, I was asked a few questions designed to generate a highly tailored reading experience. The result was not merely a pared-down version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the titular character’s name swapped with my child’s – it was a bespoke product full of idiosyncratic details, including his own Oompa Loompa song, a Wonka-fied family tree and, more impressively, a chocolate-scented image of his own branded candy bar. Unsurprisingly, the book has been a hit during story time!
It is books like these that make you appreciate how personalisation actually represents a worthy investment in creating better customer experiences, especially at a time when consumer engagement is increasingly becoming a priority for brand owners. Basic personalisation tactics – such as inserting a customer’s first name – are no longer enough to captivate consumers, while the more sustained efforts at delivering advanced personalised experiences like the ones offered by Wonderbly and notonthehighstreet.com will make a more lasting impression. Showing a commitment to getting personalisation right will ensure that brands deliver real added-value to customers, who in turn will have a far more positive shopping experience.