Brands that create a process of discovery drive passion and ownership of the brand. Consumers like being the creative director and feeling in control of shaping the products and brand. Born from consumers' desire to differentiate themselves from the mass market, this trend toward customization will continue to grow with the flexibility and efficiencies offered by technology at home and in manufacturing.
Consider Timberland's BOOTSTUDIO, where you can "build a boot as original as you are," including adding your own monogram. Nike ID also allows customers to control the look of 27 footwear styles and view their final creation from five different angles.
Lab21 takes customization to new heights by creating individually formulated skin-care products based on your DNA. Customers take an at-home DNA test and answer a questionnaire about the health of their skin. LAB21's Skin Profiler System then creates a custom formula (with your name on the label) to treat specific conditions.
As diamond promoters encourage women to buy their own diamonds (why wait for a marriage proposal?), technology that allows a gal to design her own diamond ring in three easy steps is sure to increase sales. Diamond.com not only builds your custom ring but also clearly educates on the four Cs, grading reports, setting styles and how to find your ring size.
SO HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO THE ARTS
This focus on "customization" can be used in many application for the arts--from a "pick your package" subscription series to a personalized gallery tour of your museum. Perhaps patrons visit your website, select the art they are interested in, and then download a personalized walking tour of your gallery to their MP3 player.
And although we many never see a symphony pick a season based on audience choices, the idea does need to be considered as we move into an era of "my art on my time".