Henry Ford famously said “A customer can have a car painted any color he wants as long as it’s black”. We all understand why this was important to production efficiencies and at the time the consumer was more likely to accept that the car they wanted only came in black. Today, consumer’s reality couldn’t be more different. As consumers, we all have lots of choices and individual control in everything from our coffee flavor to instant news feeds to our preference of car brand as well as the color package. Just as Ford has had to change their product experience over the years to stay relevant, so must other consumer product manufacturers. As consumers, we expect easier, quicker, and more customized solutions for our everyday lives and will use our purchasing dollars with brands that provide these options to us.
Technology, of course, has played a major role in developing these expectations for consumers. Just look at the changes in the communications industry over the past 40 years – going from home “party-line” phones (if you’re under 50 you may have to Google that), to the incredibly powerful smart phones of today. In fact, it is said the iPhone6 is 120,000,000 times faster at computing than the computer on the Apollo 11.
On-demand entertainment has also heightened consumers’ expectations. Content has blown up, giving consumers millions of choices to be entertained anytime and anyplace with just about any device. This has made the three major TV networks rethink their perspective about control over consumer’s watching behaviors. It doesn’t stop there either. The ability to get any information about anything with a few taps on the keyboard is done so often it has become an unconscious behavior.
Bostoncommons.net said on September 4, 2016 “Consumers will crave and expect more customized and personalized products, services, and experiences; a trend fueled by big data, messaging, mobility, and explosive growth of electronics … With this increase of personalization comes decreased willingness to accept concessions in product choice”.
So how does a manufacturing company, especially those in the Marine and RV industries, provide the vast array of exciting personal environmental control and brand distinction that consumers demand, all while controlling their inventory skus, production efficiencies, and cost? With a single product that puts the control in the hands of the consumer.