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Comment: Democratising personalisation

When entering the Salon de Parfums on the sixth floor of Harrods’ Knightsbridge flagship it not only looks pretty good with its polished marble flooring but… View Article

GENERAL MERCHANDISE NEWS

Comment: Democratising personalisation

When entering the Salon de Parfums on the sixth floor of Harrods’ Knightsbridge flagship it not only looks pretty good with its polished marble flooring but it also obviously smells exceptional too. What the department is also selling in this exclusive fragrance gallery housing 25 hand-selected brands is perfumes that you will have never smelt before.

This is but one example of the growing presence of personalisation within the world of retail. Undoubtedly the upper end of the market is leading the way and there are many examples of where personalisation is proving the key driver of sales. Within the car market there is something of a revolution taking place. At Ferrari the company recorded record sales last year of Euros 1.26 billion of which an incredible Euros 460 million came from the higher prices it has been able to charge for personalisation, or customisation as they call it in the automotive sector.

It has been a similar story at Bentley where profits have risen tenfold since 2019 on the back of customisation that the company has said has reached “jaw-dropping” levels post-pandemic. Meanwhile, over at Rolls Royce a dedicated division has been set up to handle the demand for personalised touches to its cars that frequently take the sales price up from a base level of £270,000 to over £500,000 and in many cases beyond the £1 million mark.

It’s not long ago that personalisation simply meant selecting your own unique combinations of paintwork colours and interior trim materials and tones. Today customers can pretty much do anything to their cars that they desire to the extent that Ferrari even enables high spending clients to design entirely new body shapes.

What these companies have been able to achieve is record-breaking revenues on fewer actual volumes of cars being sold. They are very much juicing their margins and it is serving them very well. Clearly we are talking about the rarefied atmosphere of the luxury category but invariably what happens in this world ultimately filters through into the mainstream in some form or other.

While it might not have the marble-clad confines of the Harrods Salon de Parfums the new flagship The Fragrance Store on London’s Oxford Street has embraced the personalisation with its introduction of an AI-powered perfume personalisation station that invites customers to create their own scent using the Algorithmic Perfumery technology from EveryHuman.

In this world first, shoppers simply answer a few simple questions before receiving three unique scents that are created on the spot. These samples can then be converted into a purchase of full-sized versions. Who can resist such an experience? Not many people can in fact resist something that has their own personal mark on it and this impulse looks set to have a growing influence on the retail sector. Undoubtedly AI and other technologies will play an increasingly important role and make it affordable for the more mainstream market. Personalisation absolutely does not have to be exclusively for the upper end of the market.

When we consider that the ultimate appeal of personalisation is its uniqueness then we could stretch things a little to consider that vintage, pre-loved goods might even drop into this dynamic. Every single item that is up for grabs on a resale marketplace can be unique to the buyer. Personalisation could well be the future in more ways than we think.

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