Be extraordinary … average is not good, great is not good enough … standing out, and helping people to stand out, in a similar world

July 20, 2017

In most markets, most products and services have evolved, through stretch and challenge, to be pretty good, even great. Most consumers are satisfied with most of what they buy (if they don’t, they quickly complain). A high-quality product, an everything-good service experience, can end up getting 3 out of 5 on the net promoter (feedback) score. Because it’s normal. Expected. Indeed the majority of products of services have many similarities. Whether its a mid-size family car, a new laptop computer, an airline’s business class seat, or a meal in a thai restaurant … they are all basically the same. Points of differentiation are small, and usual cosmetic. Most are good, even very good. But similar.

At the same time, most companies still treat huge markets in a very similar way. They still no quantitative research that seeks to find the average solution for the average person. Through their averaging-out, they eliminate any insight into what individuals want in more extreme or unusual ways, and they find the mid-point. The only problem is, nobody is actually at the midpoint. Nobody is average, and few people have average needs wanting average solutions.

Technology has eliminated averageness.

Online platforms have enabled consumers to access the “long tail” within any market … a huge selection of options, each of them relatively small – but at the same time, much more different –  unique, customised or even exotic.  Take music for example. In the past, everybody was essentially forced to like a similar kind of music – what was in the record store, or played on the radio, and the hit-parade rankings were based on overall average sales. Now the “long tail” of music that can be easily accessed by Spotify or iTunes, is a vast collection of eclectic, weird, diverse music which different types of people like. It’s all there. Everybody can be different.

Personalisation of every kind of product or service, increasingly responds to the diversity of real needs which we each have. From personalised jeans from Levi’s to personalised fragrances from ScentTrunk, personalised greetings cards from Moonpig to personalised flights by Surfair. The ability to harness modular delivery processes, to predict or respond to individual needs, and then to offer something unique for each person, is transforming markets, adding value to once average products and services, and delighting the customers who are served.

Take this a step further, and I actually love something that is surprisingly different.

Hunting around a craft market recently, I came across some incredible cushions recently. Incredible vibrant designs, big and usually shaped, and made by a local craftsman too. Going out for dinner, I went to a restaurant that had the most unusual way of describing and presenting its food. When I’m on vacation, I love browsing around the supermarkets of foreign lands because everything is different. What happens is that we become immune to the ordinary, and we want something more. We don’t want average. Even if its good, even great. An we don’t want to be treated as averages. We are individual, unique.

Extraordinary is what matters.

A recent Euromonitor report focused on this “new normal”. It proposes that extraordinary consumers fall into “atypical” consumer categories regarding height, security, weight, physical ability, dominant hand, music taste and sound experience or food tolerance. These subsets are now finding a voice and calling for more buying choices and solutions-based design. Extraordinary consumers are now more outspoken when their needs are underserved, in areas like travel, hotel accommodation, furniture design and medical care as well as fashion. It transpires that these needs are also less niche and more mainstream. Everybody wants to be individual, different, special. And its easy, because we are.

What brands and businesses need to do, is have the confidence to be less similar. More extraordinary.

Download the Euromonitor report Global Economies and Consumers in 2017

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