Q: What does personalization mean for menswear these days?
Todd Barrato: Lately the beauty industry has gotten a lot of credit for leading the charge in personalization. But the fact is, personalization has been around for centuries, especially in fashion. It is perhaps the most effective sales tool an in-store associate can use to drive a purchase and satisfy a customer.
The challenge today with e-commerce platform is you lose the art of personalization and how to personally satisfy customers. Suggestive selling is eliminated. For instance, enhancing the sale by offering an initial on a cuff or a monogram on a bag, is harder to accomplish online. Personalization is about stirring the emotion of the customer and creating confidence between the store, the salesperson, and the brand. The sale becomes personal: “This piece was MADE for me”, “I love the way this looks and feels”, “I can’t do without it.”
There have been recent advances with the emergence of special customization platforms now available to anyone who can point and click. Live chats and AI work to close the gap but it isn’t enough. The winning brands will be the ones that slow down and LISTEN to the customer. Consumers demand personal experiences in order to earn their time, attention, and investment. And as they spend increasingly greater time online shopping, we must figure out new experiences that are built for online that work better than they currently do.
In-store purchases outperform online by 5x (3 percent online, 15 to 20 percent in-store). In order to translate this success to online we need to redefine the definition of personalization, leverage data and technology to be proactive versus reactive, and be relevant and meaningful in every way we interact.
When you can get a customer emotional about your brand you create passion, and with passion comes brand loyalty and brand ambassadors. Nothing is more valuable. Personalization drives emotion and emotion drives passion.