The world of rapid digitalization and globalization is changing the way consumers behave, with products and services becoming increasingly personalized and individualized as people seek more and different ways of expressing self-determination and uniqueness. Co-creation is gaining new meaning as customers aspire to greater involvement in the creation and design process, which they are increasingly viewing as an added opportunity for self-expression. New and more sophisticated technologies are constantly emerging to meet this demand and provide ever more unique and personalized customer experiences.

In recognition of this trend, the organizers of Domotex have chosen “Unique Youniverse” as the keynote theme for the 2018 showcase. Hall 9 will serve as a central gathering point and source of inspiration for visitors on this theme, comprising of four zones. In the “Flooring Spaces” zone, companies from the floor coverings industry will stage creative product showcases that reflect the theme. The “Living Spaces” zone is where exhibitors will team up with partners from the interior design sector to craft inspiring spaces and innovative lifestyle realms. In the “NuThinkers” zone, students, young designers, and startups will present the innovative projects they have developed on the topic of product and service individualization. And the “Art and Interaction” zone will present the keynote theme with exhibits from the worlds of art and design, paired with interactive multimedia displays.

Consumers are now able to exert considerable influence over the creation and production process with many products thanks to digitalization. The consumer’s emotional journey is a key part of this trend because the emotional buy-in is what gives individualized products their unique value. Individualization also changes how people relate to brands. The greater customer input into the creation process, the more closely they identify with the brand. 

In the interior design and furnishing sector, product individualization for the most part means allowing the customer to select individual product elements from within a set range. But there are also manufacturers who offer products in small batches outside their normal production runs. The Swiss bathware ceramics manufacturer Laufen, with its Bespoke Projects business, partners with architects and designers to create individualized washstands, bathtubs, and toilets for special construction projects. The Warsaw-based furniture startup Tylko takes customization a step further with its “Hub Table,” which can be personalized online using an app. By moving sliders on the online interface, customers can determine the dimensions, surface finish and color of their table, as well as the angle and shape of its legs. Unlike most makers of personalized products, Tylko even allows returns and exchanges.

Individualized products are the result of a combination of skilled manual and industrial production and digital control and ordering technologies. Today, more and more manufacturers are seeking greater customer involvement as they look to grow their personalization offering, an offering that may soon go beyond the mere ability to select from a number of pre-set options. More and more manufacturers are enabling their customers to provide feedback on their products and effectively have input into the brand creation process. In the not-too-distant future, the world may see completely new genres of products whose forms and uses are radically different from those of the products we know today.

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