December 15, 2015 SheSpeaksInc

To Win in 2016, Let Consumers Personalize Your Brand Experience

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Blah, blah, blah. We’ve all heard about personalization for years. In the nineties, credit card companies launched new products with options and features that you could combine to make your very own “perfect” credit card. So, many of us had credit cards in our wallets with pictures of our dogs or kids and, we even chose our preferred payment date.

But, this is 2016 (well, just about), and companies have exploded on to the scene with major success mainly because they allow consumers to personalize, not products, but experiences.

Take Blue Apron for example. In June, the Company announced a $135 million dollar VC raise at a valuation of close to $2 BILLION dollars. So, what is Blue Apron? According to the company, it’s a grocery delivery service that now delivers over 3 million meals per month to US consumers.

Ask any Blue Apron customer – and by the way, their customers cut across multiple generations and consumer sets — and they will tell you that they love Blue Apron because it gives them a chance to use their Blue Apron deliveries to create their own meals, exactly the way they want them.

The ingredients and an easy to follow recipe guide are all delivered by Blue Apron but, ultimately, the customer has to put those ingredients together, in their own kitchen, using their own kitchen tools, and their own skills.. Each Blue Apron package has three recipes, for three meals, and each meal is 30 minutes to an hour of kitchen time. It’s a culinary experience in a box, not just a collection of curated ingredients. And, based on the growth of the meal delivery service, they tripled their volume between January and June of 2015. In short: consumers LOVE it!

What Blue Apron has learned and leveraged is that if they can get a customer to engage with a product (in this case a meal service) they will make it their own. Hence, personalizing it while building loyalty.

So, what can CPG brands learn from the success of companies like Blue Apron?

1) Let Consumers Make Your Product Their Own

Traditional food CPG brands can certainly do the same. Why couldn’t Perdue collaborate with Hunt’s and Ronzoni to create a “Dinner in a Box”? These food brands could create programs where their products are shipped to a consumer along with recipe ideas and fixings to create a great meal. This idea does not just extend to food. Think about a cosmetic brand doing the same. They could curate “looks” and create packaged kits along with how-to instructions to create the look on their own and personalizing the experience!

2) Encourage Consumers To Create Content

Once consumers make your product their own via these type of Blue Apron experiences, they have a natural inclination to create content to “show off” their creations. Take a look at Blue Apron’s Facebook page with its over 1 million fans to see the thousands of consumer generated photos of their meal recipes

3) Give Consumers a Reason to Share Their Love

Consumers want to look smart, creative etc. Once they love your brand, give them a reason to give their friends a chance to try it. Think referral programs! Blue Apron has a robust referral program that gives their customers points and free meal credits for referring friends to sign up for the service.

I’d love to hear about other brands that are personalizing their brand experiences. Please share them in the comments below. Here’s to a successful (and personal) 2016!

This post originally appeared in MediaPost’s Marketing:CPG on December 14, 2015.

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