NEW YORK: Major brand owners like Kraft, Mars and Coca-Cola are attempting to offer a more personalised experience to US consumers.
Earlier this year, Kraft rolled out MiO, a new range of "enhancers" – such as strawberry watermelon, mango peach, and pomegranate – which can be added to a glass of water.
The company estimated 170bn servings of tap and bottled water are drunk in the US each year, and sought to generate interest in MiO through giving away 100,000 samples via Facebook.
Costing $3.99 per unit, this product carries a comparative premium, and is aimed at affluent, aspirational "millennials" in the 18-39 year old demographic.
"Consumers are really looking to have their personal tastes reflected in all things they're doing and using," said Liza Laibe, senior brand manager for MiO.
"Bottled water alone is a $10bn business. When you look at tap, it's three times the consumption of bottled water."
The North American drinks division of Mars has adopted a similar strategy for its Flavia coffeemakers, introducing extensions of the firm's Alterra line.
Among the 25 offerings released are cappuccinos, lattes and mochas, as well as Dove hot chocolate and a variety of specialty teas.
"Today when you drink a coffee, you're not looking for a coffee, you're looking for your coffee, the coffee you like, the taste you like," said Xavier Unkovic, general manager of Mars Drinks North America.
"Look at how many wines there are today. Coffee is developing in the same way."
Elsewhere, Coca-Cola has created a Freestyle fountain allowing shoppers to mix over 100 different beverages from across its portfolio, from Fanta and Sprite to Dansai.
Speaking on a conference call last month Muhtar Kent, the organisation's chief executive, outlined ambitious growth targets for these machines.
"This game-changing innovation is now available in more than 400 locations across 20 US markets, providing a greater choice of brands to our customers and our consumers," he said.
"Plans for further expansion in 2011 are well on track with availability expected to reach more than 80 US markets by the end of 2011."
Such a trend has extended to luxury goods, with Louis Vuitton taking its Mon Monogram programme, previously limited to a small number of stores, online, letting web users tailor selected products.
This includes adding specific features - be it coloured stripes or initials - to items like Speedy handbags and Keepall travel bags, choosing from a potential 200m possibilities.
When happy with their design, netizens may then buy the bespoke bag through Louis Vuitton's ecommerce platforms in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US.
Alternatively, they can print out a paper copy and take it into a store.
Completed orders are then delivered within eight weeks.
"For more than 150 years, this company has united tradition and innovation," said Pietro Beccari, a senior vice president at Louis Vuitton.
"There is no better example than this initiative, which brings one of Louis Vuitton's historic services - personalization - into the digital era."
In the cosmetics sector, Clinique has leveraged Apple's iPad in certain stores, creating a "diagnostic tool" assessing each individual's unique skincare needs.
Drawing on answers to set questions, this application will analyse over 180,000 combinations, then printing out a list of the recommended goods.
"Clinique was built on the promise of providing our consumers with the most personalized, engaging and informative experience at every interactive touchpoint," said Lynne Greene, Clinique's global brand president.
"By integrating digital technologies into the Clinique shopping experience, we are offering the consumer a stimulating and socially modern way to connect with the brand."
Data sourced from Chicago Tribune, Seeking Alpha, Clinique, Louis Vuitton; additional content by Warc staff