Customization vs. Personalization

Franco Varriano
December 11, 2020
 min read

Key takeaways

●  There’s a gap in the customer experience: product creation. Customer experience is the framework that forward-thinking brands use to purposefully create and improve for their customers, from start to finish.

●  Plenty of brands and products offer some level of customization; the next generation of products will offer deeper personalization.

●  Customers increasingly expect more and are looking for unique, personalized products. Brands that understand this will succeed in attracting these customers.

●  Creative Layer can add personalized products to your customer experience (sign-up for early access!).


Technology keeps pushing the boundaries of what's possible, and customer expectations balloon alongside. The outcome for brands and businesses of all sizes is that the customer experience bar is constantly being raised higher and higher.

This is an exciting and critical time for brands to evolve alongside. Brands are effectively being forced by the market to either adapt or risk finding that their audience is growing frustrated with many aspects of their offering (whether that means the overall experience or a product or service).

While all businesses like to think they put customer experience front and center, that's not necessarily the case.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has stressed that customers are the first to know what is missing—and as such are continuously pushing businesses to innovate. As a result, one could argue that Amazon is the most customer-obsessed company of all time.

Setting the stage

Here at Creative Layer, we’re really into product personalization.

To summarize the most important elements:

●  Personalization is a marketing concept where technology is leveraged in order to effectively transform several (if not all) elements of the customer experience.

●  Personalization has traditionally been used to make a customer feel like they have a more individualized relationship with a brand.

●  Due to technological limitations, personalization has historically been limited to dynamic copy changes, product recommendations, rewards, and individualized discounts or pricing.

●  Product and the product creation experience remain the biggest gap in the personalized customer experience.

But wait? Can’t we customize products already? Yes!

This is where the question of customization versus personalization comes into play. Specifically, we’re talking about the future of personalization, which includes product personalization.

How is customization different from personalization?

Customization is usually associated with how something is configured or adapted to your needs.

Take, for example, a standard t-shirt from your favorite brand. You can customize the size and color to fit your needs (no pun intended!).

Personalization, on the other hand, is evolving with the use of sophisticated and real-time technologies to become hyper-personalization or Personalization 2.0. But too often it's leaving out one of the most important parts of the customer experience: the product.

Product personalization happens in one of two ways:

●  Basic personalization

●  Advanced personalization

Let's break these down further.


Basic personalization

With basic personalization, a brand or creator establishes a very specific product. A customer can only personalize so much in this product experience, and select variables can be replaced with the customer's personal information and taste.

Take a pet portrait. The product has been defined as a physical print, and there is a specific process in which the image of that pet is created.  

A customer personalizes the product by adding a photo of their pet, and by selecting other elements from the product experience, such as filters, text, and size.

The customer’s personal preferences are what makes this more than a simple customization.


Advanced personalization

With advanced personalization, the brand or creator doesn’t have an established product experience. Rather, they've created a sandbox where customers can bring their unique identity and remix it with components of the brand or creator’s identity.

Personalized product experiences become more clear when you’re using a tool like a product personalization matrix. There are already some innovative brands and creators who are working towards building a future shaped by Personalization 2.0.


How to add personalization to your business

Personalization isn’t a futuristic concept—it’s happening today, though mostly for big brands with equally large budgets.

Creative Layer is making product personalization fun, accessible, and available to brands and creators of all sizes. It's what drives us!

Sign-up for early access to Creative Layer to learn more about the future of personalization, commerce, and how these products and experiences can help your business grow.