Bespoke YOUniverse: Brand-Led Personalized Realities Make Users the Main Character

December, 2022

In a world where product experience is increasingly determined by discovery algorithms, our expectations for personalization are high as people expect brands to adapt to their unique main character energy. 

Personalization is table stakes for brands – the key is now to make people feel they are at the center of the worlds they want to design for themselves. And building personal preferences into user experience can lead to real loyalty. This November, nearly 6 in 10 US adults said that a streaming service that curates music, shows, or movies to their personal taste is worth paying for, and this figure jumps to 72% for those 18-34.* People are eager to engage with brands that give them free rein to tailor their worlds to their liking in a trend we’re calling Bespoke YOUniverse – and this customization is fostering self-expression and self-discovery in the process.

My Personal Musicverse

Music has always been a medium for expression and self-understanding, but Spotify’s platform has one-upped this individualization by moving the mainstream music experience to the me-stream. It’s no wonder that 76% of adults 18-34 don’t believe mainstream pop culture even exists anymore*– today’s adults are able to curate their own music universes, with Spotify at the center. Thanks to apps like Instafest, users can now create their own three-day festival lineups comprised of their most-listened to artists on Spotify. Created by a USC student, Instafest generates and designs a mock festival lineup based on your most-listened-to Spotify artists and gives users the option to customize the poster’s visuals. 

The experience took users by storm only days before the app re-launched its highly anticipated year-end Wrapped, where people can now unlock their “Listening Personalities” like a Myers-Briggs assessment. People love to share their music universe and fantasize about a world that centers their tastes – and seeing it “come to life” in an engaging format makes it all the more sharable.

Crafted for YOU-tility

For many, the metaverse is still fascinating and new – but novelty alone isn’t enough to make an impact. In the age of immersive world-building, personalized experiences that offer real-life value must live at the center – whether through utility, identity, or self-expression. Macy’s metaverse parade, now in its second year running fell flat with some viewers after the experience failed to check these boxes. An editor for the U.S. Sun said, “I watched the metaverse Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade alongside the real-life version as it joyously brightened up Sixth Avenue in New York. The metaverse version was not so joyous or lively. Virtual balloons floated past a virtual Macy’s store on a completely empty and silent gray street.”People are looking to make real memories and further their self discovery through these experiences – if they’re not getting this kind of value, expensive activations may fall short on returns.

Other brands are building personalization that offers problem-solving. This summer, IKEA launched IKEA Kreativ, an AI-driven experience where customers can customize and visualize their personal spaces with digitized versions of the brand’s furniture using their smartphone camera lenses. The app uses spatial computing, machine learning, and 3D mixed reality tech to help people easily construct their ideal visions. Brands that cultivate people’s creativity and expression by inviting them to make their aspirations a reality offer greater value to people in their shopping experience, which in turn may deepen engagement and brand affinity. 

What it Means

As we enter the next frontier of web3, brands must consider strategies and activations that not only place individuals and their unique preferences at the epicenter, but also give people license to co-create the experience in the process. By activating people’s self-expression, brands may not only become agents of taste but of self-discovery and identity as well. Here’s how that could look:

  • #BingeMe: A streaming entertainment brand can center its subscribers’ viewing habits by letting viewers see themselves in their favorite content – literally. To #BingeMe, users could link their social media to the platform to reveal a slideshow of their favorite scenes from their most-viewed shows and movies featuring their likenesses as extras, main characters, or even inanimate objects. To foster further engagement, challenge people to deliver their best Oscar speech on Instagram Reels and TikTok for a chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to become a paid extra on set for an upcoming production. 
  • The Regulars’ Menu: When it comes to casual dining, delivery, and even a night out, people love their favorite menu items and beverages. To reward and center loyal guests, food service and bar brands could feature ‘The Regulars’ Menu’ – naming their most loved orders (and their specific add-ons) after their patrons by name. Got a unique salad combo you love and order every time? Now it’s called “The Cameron.” To foster even more local love, integrate The Regulars’ Menu using data from Seamless or Grub Hub to make instant re-ordering of favorites totally frictionless (and ego-boosting).

Source: *Horizon Media, Finger on the Pulse. Survey fielded 11/14/22-11/18/22, n=1,000

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