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It's my mood

Julia Decker © Jonny Valiant

Individuality is the luxury of our time. From home furnishings to accessories or mobile phones – customized everyday items become an expression of personality. What is still to come? Let's take a look at the future of personal consumption.

Picking the hated raisins out of your muesli at breakfast? A thing of the past. Those who want to start the day with muesli but without raisins can choose from more than eighty ingredients online and have their own personal muesli mix delivered to their home. Buckwheat and rolled oats, poppy and desert Indianwheat seeds, goji berries or morello cherries: whatever tastes good is put in. Whatever doesn't, isn't. This results in an incredible 566 quadrillion possible combinations. The concept is extremely successful, and that's no surprise because it follows the global trend of individualization. Giving expression to your own uniqueness with an individual product – that's the new luxury. Manufacturers of sneakers were among the first to strike this new path at the end of the 1990s: not only can you choose the size and the model online, you can also select the material, the colour and even the lettering. This means that no pair is the same as another. The advantages of mass production are combined with the advantages of customized production: from mass production to mass customization.

Distinctive design

Smartphones are a particularly good example of the desire for individualization. When initially purchased, every smartphone looks the same. A gadget that is at first a stranger to individuality and does not become a personal and unmistakable guide through the digital world until it is equipped with apps and sleeves. The football fan chooses a sleeve with the logo of their club, the Jane Austen lover opts for old English roses. Companies such as Iphoria offer a kind of wardrobe for smartphones – whole collections to suit personal taste, for example in the look of a Hermès handbag or in the Chanel nail varnish colours of the moment. Car drivers also have very different special preferences. The young family father has different preferences to the single, successful CEO. The hobby mountain climber has different tastes to the dog lover with four dachshunds. The father attaches importance to five doors, the dog owner to an easy-clean tub in the boot. The company saloon is fitted out in 29 leather, and the music lover opts for a high-end system with ten loudspeakers.

Bauhaus or baroque?

Those who – apart from their personal preferences – want the best possible drive, numerous assistance systems and the right transmission might sometimes feel as though they are in a mechanical engineering workshop when they buy a car if they haven't grown up with terms such as proximity warning function, rated output and torque converter. Mercedes-Benz has now developed an impressive solution for this: the lifestyle configurator. This doesn't ask about drive preferences, but rather about the style of architecture you prefer – Bauhaus or baroque? Whether you prefer to travel to the Alps or to Asia, if you'd rather go to the theatre or go hiking, and also if you are a golf player or a horse racing enthusiast. The algorithm of the lifestyle configurator creates a profile from this information and suggests a suitable vehicle type including individual equipment. Ideally, the vegan will then drive a car with a fabric instead of a leather interior, while the Bauhaus fan will enjoy the simple elegance of her Mercedes-Benz interior. In a few words, here's how it works: Whereas in the past you might have had an Aspen sticker on your car to indicate your preference for an exclusive holiday destination and give your vehicle a personal touch, the principle is now reversed. In future the customer states their favourite holiday destination in advance and this together with other parameters relating to personal lifestyle are used to find a car tailored to the customer's personal preferences. Without any raisins.

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