The threat of Customization

Reebok has just announced the introduction of the Pump 2.0, an inflatable shoe that automatically adjusts to your feet.

John Moore at Brand Autopsy quotes a Reebok exec thus: "When you go to Burger King you can have it your way, Starbucks makes the coffee the way you like it and with the iPod you can listen only to music you like. We think the consumer is ready for true customization in shoes as well.”

What he’s talking about is the topic of customization on a mass scale (a.k.a. mass customization). This is a rising trend in the consumer consciousness and one which is directly in conflict with the notion of "broad"casting.

Even Satellite Radio effectively provides customization through the immense breadth of their offerings. My ideal mix of stations is different from yours, but we both can find the perfect blend with 100 options.

The question on the table is this: Will consumers grow to demand and expect their individual needs to be met to their individual specifications? Will consumers tolerate the difficulty of loading an iPod because of the immense benefits of a customized, personalized music mix?

How can Radio compete in this world, if this is the world that’s coming?

The answer, my friends, is an old one: Not more vertical, narrow content (i.e., a specialized music format) but more broad, horizontal, yet exclusive content (e.g., Howard Stern).

Is your station, your broadcast company, planning for this future? Or are you sitting back waiting for the tidal wave to sweep you away?

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