More on Customization

The other day I commented on trend of consumer product customization and posted about a company that offers custom artwork for iBook computers. This topic has been on my mind a lot lately and the more I pay attention, the more I see.

In my previous post, I referenced the multi-billion dollar ringtone industry as one example.  Today I learned of a new company called SkinIt that makes and sells skins for personal electronic devices out of professional grade vinyl.  They offer thousands of skin designs for hundreds of devices including mobile phones, MP3 players, game devices, PDA’s and miscellaneous items including TiVo boxes and remotes.  Prices seem to average $9.95 though some are more or less.  This taps into the same desire for individuality that leads people to buy ringtones.  For $10 or so you can change your stock silver or black device into something individual that reflects your personality.  (BTW, I ordered skins for my mobile phone and TiVo remote and will report back when I get them.)

Another prime example is Starbucks. When not just ordering a cup of coffee, my second Starbucks beverage of choice is a grande, nonfat, three raw sugar latte. (And that’s the way to order it, by the way, or they will correct it when calling the order to the barista.)  You can get whole milk, low fat milk or nonfat milk.  You can also get soymilk, an extra shot or any of a dozen flavors.  You can get your drink hot or cold and big or small.  What I wonder is, how much of what people are willing to pay for these drinks is a result of the quality of the product versus the individuality of the product?  Am I paying $3.49 for a latte or for my latte?  Obviously, I believe the answer to be the latter.

I guess the real question here is, how much more are people willing to pay for a product customized just for them as opposed to what a company produces for everyone else? Next question is, how can your company (and your clients) benefit from this trend?

Any other examples of customization?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.