Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more sci-fi, one of Britain’s leading supermarkets goes and starts printing off models of whatever shoppers want for £40 a pop. The future is most definitely approaching.
According to Marketing Week’s rather eye-catching story yesterday, Asda’s York store is the first to offer scanning of people, pets, cars and other objects, which are then sent off to a 3D printer, where lifelike versions of the subject are created in ceramic. Customers are being given colour and finish options, including a bronze-style or white coating, depending on how they prefer to be recreated.
A UK first, aimed at (large) stocking fillers in the pre-Christmas build up, Selfridges is about to become the second retailer in the country to sell a similar service when it also begins offering the public models of themselves, costing anything from £50 to £200 depending on the size. A rather unique gift idea to say the least, whilst there are questions to ask about anyone who wants a near-accurate scaled shiny mannequin of themselves standing in the front room staring coldly over Saturday night’s TV, we can appreciate how enticing some of the possibilities here will prove to be.
There’s also the small matter of brand perception, with both companies destined to be seen as pioneering. Of course Selfridges is in many ways a market leader, held in reverence for its interior design and window fitting ethics, and serves a predominantly up market clientele who prefer to be on the cutting edge. In contrast most people probably don’t see Asda in quite the same light. There’s nothing wrong with it, but the (paraphrased) tagline of ‘mum’s best friend’ doesn’t immediately invoke technologically advanced stock, meaning there’s plenty to be gained from this news.
Of course the whole concept of 3D printing is rapidly becoming (alarmingly) everyday. Nokia, SoundCloud and a number of other firms have already been using it in marketing campaigns. And, in September, Marketing Magazine thought the moment was right to post this video-feature on the possibilities and limitations for brands keen to use this in their marketing mix. Around the same time, Brand Republic posted this video, which already asks if brands are now in trouble because of the potential to democratise the manufacturing process through this kind of digital technology. Indeed, it’s all happened rather quickly considering not much more than a year ago most of us didn’t really understand what 3D printing was, or what it even meant. Needless to say then, this would be a very good time to get well-acquainted, especially if such equipment could work with your brand, because the near future looks set to see a lot of public attention placed on this kind of thing.