Category Insights & Analytics

Custom Products in Japan

Based on a recent trip to Japan, the built-to-order trend is more evident than ever.  Custom product is a global trend and research shows that consumers, while interested in the ‘idea’ of building their own products from scratch actually prefer to select custom products that are designed by others.  Also, when done well, these programs increase lifetime value of consumers through greater loyalty and basket size.

Here are a couple of examples of custom product brand strategies from Japan:

The first is Timberland’s multi-channel execution of ‘build your own boots’ – a photo of the POP in the Timberland store in Yokohama – and a screen shot of the same execution at  Consumers can build exactly the combinations they are interested in.

The second example is in a toy store in Ginza, Tokyo.  The STRIDER running bike is a bike that kids learn to balance on because it has no pedals.  However, STRIDER has come up with a mix-and-match programs with various wheel, grip, and other options.

Does your brand have opportunities to allow the consumer to create their own version of your products?


What is your Shopability Level?

I got emails about the last post on Neuro and their color scheme/merchandising that makes it easier for shoppers to navigate ‘which Neuro is for me?’

Another couple of recent examples of Shopability navigation in the consumer experience… one from Sports Chalet (sporting goods retailer) and another from Starbucks new #verismo system.

Both of these examples help the consumer’s purchase decision tree… from consideration to conversion.

What opportunities do you have to make assortment navigation easier for your consumers?



Is Your Brand Delivering Uniqueness?

For passionate runners, New Balance makes some of the best, ergonomically designed performance footwear in the world. However their distribution channels and retailers are the same as all other running shoe/performance brands.

However, in their flagship NYC door, they chose to forsake retail productivity in their very expensive real estate, and instead invest in a true brand statement.

This shopper experience is all about customization and interactive theater… New Balance loyalists can come into the store and work with the sales associates to craft custom made product exactly to their specifications… and they will be the only ones to have that combination.

Custom product is not new I. sporting goods, but the way that New Balance has invested in this shopper experience ‘factory’ is a step change.

Is your brand developing in-store theater and interactivity? How are you creating brand uniqueness and loyalty?




Did I Get Your Attention???

Cutting through the morass of brand messaging is an age-old problem.  One brand, Chase, has seized an opportunity to find new ways to activate their brand and their airline loyalty program – the handrails on escalators at airports

I like to think of these types of activations as ‘interrupters’ – ad firms, brands, service providers, and property owners (in this case, an airport) finding new ways to catch our attention (and monetize their assets).  This reminds me of when ads began appearing on the little separator bars on supermarket conveyor belts at the cash wraps – or Cheesecake Factory’s menus that are full of advertising.

It appears this new activation opportunity is the business model of a firm called AdrailUSA

What do you think?

  • Is this too much or it is a perfect blend of relevant (airline loyalty program activation at the airport) and timely execution?
  • Are we moving towards a world of omni-advertising that consumes every surface and experience a consumer has in obtrusive ways?
  • Or, is this an example of stated preferences (“I think there are too many ads”) being out of alignment with observed behavior (this type of activation driving conversion and actions)?