The Key to the Millennial Market: Customization

If you, like me, are of a “certain age,” you probably remember going car shopping, narrowing down the brand of car you wanted, then trying to choose between the basic or premium options because those were the only options available.


Now, most car brands offer “make your own customized vehicle,” allowing purchasers to choose the model, the color, the brake package, the type and size of tires, the trim and everything down to the “tire value stem caps” (not even kidding on that one)!


For those of us in the Gen X or Baby Boomer generations, we’re used to standardized fare. But the Millennials are quite another story. At 80 million strong, these 20-35 year olds are the biggest age group in American history. This critical market has grown accustomed to the Starbucks, Subways and Chipotles of the world where they can create custom offerings that suit their specific tastes. Not only do they prefer customization, they have come to expect it.


However, the Millennials’ desire for customization goes beyond just “personal preference” to a greater desire for “personal expression.” According to a recent study*, 54 percent of adults under the age of 35 agree that standing out is more important than fitting in (vs. 42 percent of those over 35 who agree). As a result, they are looking for products and services that not only meet their specific needs, but also help them express their unique identity:

  • Nike/Toms: Allows consumers to customize their own pair of shoes
  • Etsy/RedBubble: Provides unique, custom designed products from a worldwide art marketplace
  • Pandora/Spotify: Permits listeners to design their own custom stations and personal playlists
  • BlueStar Appliances: Enables consumers to “build their own” range


No area appears exempt from this desire for individualization. However, even Millennials can get overwhelmed with too many choices. That’s why companies like Subway offer a set number of items to pick and choose from. But, how can you determine which set items to begin with?


This is where deep consumer insights are critical. Such insights go beyond simple demographic data to truly learn the make-up of your target’s identity, and how they wish to express it. Companies can no longer afford to categorize their target in general psychographic segments such as “soccer moms.” They need to go beyond hard quantitative data to learn “why” their consumers tick and “how” they wish to be perceived in the world. The use of online qualitative communities can be especially helpful in delving into consumers’ preferences and desired social identity.


Do you really know this crucial Millennial market and how your brand can help them express themselves? In-depth customer insights can help you ensure that your brand is meeting the custom needs of this up-and-coming generation.


*2016 Ford Trends at a Glance