Sometimes it is the little things you notice that provide interesting insights, and this week was no different.
The topic of conversation was perfectly normal… chatting about differences between markets over the pandemic… it is something I always find interesting and illuminating, understanding how things are different.
However, in many cases these days, these differences, are increasingly being flattened.
In the last 10-20 years we have gone on this massive journey of globalization. One that has undoubtedly generated massive economies of scale, but one that has also resulted in more standard processes and products.
However, in listening closely, despite this wave of standardization, there is also an undercurrent of localization too… and some businesses are clearly seeing increased value by having products customized for distinct communities.
All of this was further reinforced later the next day by a further knock on the door.
Now normally, this is often an Amazon delivery, who I swear seem to be waiting for a video conference call to start before deciding to ring the doorbell.
This time, however, it was different… a milkman, setting up locally and offering a new service, looking for customers.
Now given this was 11am, I had just made a coffee and was actually grumbling ‘there is no milk in the house’. Timing is often everything and I had been caught at the most perfect time… I was sold (and if he had been offering sticky buns or cake I probably would have bought some of those too).
But, as the discussion to sign me up ensued, he also mentioned that he had also had a good response from my neighbours too. It set me thinking this is another local service picking up customers against the mass market.
Now two data points don’t necessarily make a trend, but they do make a line, and that line was going up. Is this a potential competitive advantage that can be deployed?
Your friendly neighborhood…
This is of course certainly something that local businesses can use, relatively easily, to create differentiated services and gain market share.
And, this customisation doesn’t have to be limited to a geography, it could also be local to a community too.
If people are increasingly looking for tailored solutions amongst the froth of mass-market offerings, this could be the next new but old trend in the ‘post-pandemic’ world.
So how should big businesses react, and will they be able to create the same level of service as a local provider? With the increasing use of data, the volume of data that is now available, it is undoubtedly getting tantalisingly close.
Mass customization of consumer experiences, almost down to individual level is starting to be possible. And, as the degrees of freedom within the data increases so does the likelihood that your experience is unique to you.
However, despite the advances that have been made, most of my day-to-day conversations still seem to revolve around process efficiency and mass customisation…
So my thought this week is… maybe we also now need to think and use this data to build community in our processes too, a new lens which to overlap on process design. It could lead to better customer outcomes, retention and be the next source of competitive advantage…
Have a good week everyone.