group of friends standing with their arms around each other
Personalization has become a key consumer desire across all industries, from health to travel. — Getty Images/Cecilie_Arcurs

From your morning coffee order to your daily vitamin, smart brands are finding ways to make sure you get exactly what you want. Personalization is driving product and service innovation across industries of all types. Here are five companies that are putting personalization to work to attract customers and build loyalty.

MM.LaFleur’s personal stylist

For busy professional women with better things to do, assembling a workday wardrobe can be problematic. Shopping for elegant, affordable garments that send just the right message is time-consuming, often frustrating and rarely enjoyable. It’s a common problem to which apparel company MM.LaFleur has a custom made solution: a personal stylist.

The key to MM’s personalization is a quick online survey. Based on the information provided, MM’s stylists create a customized collection for each consumer. The pieces, delivered in a bento box, are decidedly minimalist — meant to put the spotlight on the wearer, not the garment.

By focusing on a specific market segment — busy professional women — MM is able to design and manufacture its own clothing line. The pieces are classic, understated and work well together, making it easy for a stylist, armed with information about personal needs and tastes, to create a collection that’s built for one closet at a time.

Read more about MM.LaFleur here.

What we admire and desire says a great deal about who we are.

Pinterest's personalized ads

What we admire and desire says a great deal about who we are. Pinterest knows that the virtual pins on users’ boards — like pins on a real map — plot a direct line to their wallets. The platform uses specialized technology to read that map and monetize it, offering up highly personalized ads.

Pinterest’s visual discovery technology identifies the item a user pins and makes assumptions about the human who pinned it. The site’s Taste Graph combines that information with data gleaned from over 100 billion other pins. The result is a window into a user’s unique style and a clue to what they will purchase — now and in the future.

Over a billion searches are performed each month by its 250 million users. To turn more of that wanting into buying, Pinterest has developed hundreds of millions of shoppable Product Pins, with a direct link to a retailer’s check out page.

For shoppers on the go, the Lens feature of the platform’s mobile app can identify real world items — particularly clothing and home décor — and suggest similar ones for purchase. It’s like Shazam for light fixtures, and Pinterest hopes we’ll soon wonder how we ever shopped without it.

Read our story on Pinterest’s visual online shopping.

Care/of’s customized vitamins

Imagine a doctor, a nutritionist, and team of clinical researchers create a daily vitamin and supplement regimen just for you. Now imagine your mom is put in charge of packaging. If you’re visualizing little packets of pills adorned with your name and smiley face, you’re on to the premise of Care/of. The direct-to-consumer vitamin brand promises a path to personal health, designed exclusively for you.

Of course, to truly personalize a health regimen, things have to get, well, personal. The first step is an online health and lifestyle quiz. Based on your answers, a list of recommended products is compiled, purporting to meet your specific needs.

Once you’ve approved the list, your Care/of curated collection of pills and powders is sealed into individual packs, containing a day’s worth of dietary support. Your name and some inspirational words are printed on each and yes — a smiley face, too. The packs are boxed up and sent out monthly. All that’s left for you to do is remember to take them.

Read our interview with Care/of CEO.

Starbucks’ stars

Starbucks Sharpies a name on every cup. Can customer service get more personalized? The answer, of course, is yes — and then some. The key to that uber-personalization is in the stars — the rewards handed out for loyalty.

Starbucks has over 16 million customer earning stars — two for every dollar spent — and racking up data about their preferences. It’s a circular concept. Consumers give Starbucks their loyalty and their information. In return, Starbucks gives them a chance, through personalized offers, to make more purchases and earn more stars, which gives … well, you get the picture.

More personalization comes with the Starbucks mobile app, which allows users to order ahead and avoid the line. The app remembers favorite orders, suggests menu items and lets customers know a good location based on where they are in the world. All of that and they still put a name on the cup.

Read our story about the personalization of the fast food experience.

Sandals’ new vibe

There was a time when a visit to an all-inclusive resort was the antithesis of a personalized experience. Vacationers all paid the same price, frolicked on the same beach and overindulged in the same food and alcohol. That homogenized holiday won’t meet the individualized needs of today’s travelers, and Sandals Resorts has changed with the times.

In the era of the bespoke experience, the luxury hospitality brand is hard at work crafting vacations that meet the expectations of millennials and Generation Z. Amenities such as gourmet donut bars and bowling alleys are meant to draw guests together for genuine social interaction — something often missing in the digital age.

The vibe has been updated as well. Sandals believes that authenticity is important to today’s travelers and they are striving for it. Resort staff — from waiters to housekeepers to front desk personnel — have been freed from the standard customer service script and encouraged to just be themselves when interacting with guests. No more stilted greetings and canned responses, just one unique human-to-human conversation at a time. It’s all part of a carefully curated experience designed to meet the vacation aspirations of today’s resort consumers.

Read our interview with Sandals CEO.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published August 19, 2019