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Offering Product Personalization

Posted December 19, 2016 by Shoshana Burgett

Our society loves customizing its surroundings. Personalized merchandise preserves memories, and when given as a gift, shows the recipient that you put a lot of thought into the choice. It also creates an emotional bond, and (if done right) encourages brand loyalty. 

Image courtesy zazzle.com

While the personalized merchandise market used to be dominated by photo books and calendars, advances in technology have opened the door to personalizing a wide range of materials like wood, ceramics, textiles, and glass. Photos can be printed on metal rand acrylics and gallery mounted. You can order personalized pillows, mugs, candles, and even smartphone cases. These are all everyday objects that, with the right photo, become extraordinarily special.

It’s not just photos that we love. According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, the global non-photo personalized gifts market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of around 11% by 2020. Analysts have estimated the leading segment will be wearables and accessories, followed closely by decorative accessories and kitchenware.

If you are considering entering the personalized merchandise market, or expanding your current presence, read on for ideas on how to make those endeavors more successful.

Consumers are willing to pay more for custom items.

Last Christmas I ordered a personalized pillow for my mother that laid out the names of her grandchildren in the shape of a heart. Sure, I could have gone to the mall and purchased a less expensive gift that said “Grandmother,” but a little effort goes a long way when it comes to family. My mother opened the gift and knew that I had put a lot of thought and care into it, and it’s now something she proudly displays on the couch. Would she have loved a generic “Grandmother” pillow just as much? Probably not. It certainly would not have been as special.

While it can be more expensive to produce personalized merchandise, the profit margins are better too. This simple gift most likely cost less than $10 to make and ship, but the company I ordered from charged $34.99. Like many consumers, I thought it was well worth paying two or three times more to make my mother’s gift infinitely more special.

Zazzle.com offers custom pillows like these.

It’s not all about quality.

How can you color manage printed products when each one is different? For those of us in print or in other businesses where color quality is important, we often judge personalized gifts like photobooks based on their quality, but there is another side to these important applications.

What I’ve observed is that quality is secondary to the thought and effort that went into making a personalized gift. You’re not so much producing a tight tolerance as you are creating an experience. Most consumers aren’t necessarily looking for the highest quality print. There’s such an emotional response to personalization that it’s easier to overlook slight color inconsistencies that wouldn’t normally pass inspection in a professional environment.

However, there’s still a balance of expectations to meet. Many consumers find a photo they love and have it printed it on multiple items, such as a coffee mug, mouse pad, and calendar. In these cases, the items should look good together as a family or it will be very noticeable when they’re sitting together on the office desk.

Image courtesy zazzle.com

For personalized products, visual evaluation in a light booth is often enough of a color quality control process to convince a customer to come back next year.

The technology is available.

Although some brick and mortar stores have been offering photo personalization for years, online shopping makes it easier than ever to design and order custom merchandise. The biggest obstacle (and major reason consumers return personalized items) is unexpected color. That’s where we can help.

If your computer screen or mobile device isn’t color calibrated, you can’t trust the color you see will be the color that is produced. One way to address this is to join the X-Rite ColorTRUE Aware Partner Program to make your apps ColorTRUE Aware. ColorTRUE is a software solution that delivers unrivaled mobile on-screen color accuracy, ensuring that users see consistent color as they move from computer to tablet to smartphone. We’ll be making available more ways to take advantage of ColorTRUE in your sales, marketing and customer experience efforts in 2017 and beyond.

ColorTRUE is a software solution that ensures you see consistent color as you move from computer to tablet to smartphone.

Don’t forget about personalized packaging!

Personalized packaging is another way to add value. Whether it’s a custom candy wrapper to announce the birth of a child, a personalized label on a bottle of wine, or cardboard mailing tubes, adding names, images, or other personalized information on a package provides a great brand experience.

Check out Zazzle’s personalized wrapping paper!

Keep it simple.

To be successful, you need a customer-facing application that is simple, smart, and easy to use. Many personalization storefronts try to do too much, but these additional options only create a poor customer experience. We are a busy society, and we live in the moment. Seek a niche and focus on a great customer experience, not trying to be everything to everyone.

If you’re considering adding personalization to your manufacturing repertoire, InfoTrends’ Ron Gilboa’s report on the digital transformation of industrial printing is a good read.

Our Color Experts are also available to help you choose the best solution and make the leap into offering personalization.

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