It’s a small world and it’s getting even smaller. Think about it: Back in the late 19th century and into the early 20th century, we mapped the physical, geographical world, and we realized it wasn’t a big as we thought. Now, in the late 20th century and into this millennium, we have built a self-organizing, eco-system called the Internet that links people together everywhere. Now we have the ability through our ever expanding digital world to map habits, track trends, and provide us with a new perspective on human behavior.
In part because of this we’re all adopting a think-global-act-local attitude. We embrace the idea of being global citizens, of having global awareness, opportunities and genuinely caring what happens on the other side of the world. Yet we still largely live our lives in local communities, sharing what we know and comparing notes with our family, friends and colleagues.
Smart brands will approach building customer loyalty with precisely that mindset. In a noisy world and in a time when advertising is almost surgically segmented and often viewed, at best, as entertainment, and always with cynicism, it pays to know that 80 percent of all purchasing decisions are made based on recommendations from a family member, friend or colleague. As a result, brands need to unlock their content in such a way that encourages their loyalists to self-identify.
Let me give you an example. I am a huge fan of auto racing, and my loyalties lie with a particular German car company, as do my wife’s. We have owned this particular brand of car for over two decades and intensely follow their race series. Being a strong global brand, they of course provide their customers and fans a catalog of mass-produced products that we can purchase to show our affinity. I recently received one in the mail and went immediately to their website with the motivation of finding that perfect something for my wife and me.
But all I found was disappointment. There was nothing that exactly fit the bill. I already drive their car. What I wanted was my own personalized, physical evidence of my affinity and loyalty for the brand that identifies me to other enthusiasts. Like most mass manufacturers, it’s easy to not necessarily care whether or not I buy their hat, pen or keychain. However, if they were to have a simple personalization option available, it would have not only helped further cement my loyalty, but would have provided an opportunity or encouragement for me to enthusiastically share my passion for their products with my peers and cohorts.
In this big noisy world, personalization can be a significant means to drawing importance down to the individual and affording each of us loyalists the feeling that we might have a hand in a brand’s bigger global perspective.