Mass customization: ignore it at your peril

mass customization

Before the 21st century, you had to take your pick: you buy or make cheap mass products or have high-priced customised ones. If you are a fashion company, you can either be H&M or a tailor, but choose you must.
Mass or customised, but not both.
In the Internet age, a new concept has become available: mass customisation. Companies are discovering that customers can create personalised version of their mass products without requiring the personal efforts, the time and attention, that had previously been indispensable for such option.
Take a mobile phone: a mass product that you, the owner, can make personal by configuring a ringtone, using your own apps, style and look: all via self-service (this is also called adaptive customization).
Buying a car? Create your own specifications and have those produced by an algorythm and shipped, just for you. Soon, you may 3D print your winter tyres.
Tired of the mainstream media for the masses? Create your very own RSS feeds, browser homepage or news mash-up (though you’d better beware of the Filter Bubble).
Mass customisation is a win-win solution, with a caveat: you get your individual needs catered for at highly competitive prices while the producer can benefit from the economy of scale.
This works smoothly for many products and services if a sufficiently robust and creative system is in place. Its payoff is huge: your customers will love the tailor-made service they get, and would not only stay with you but probably pay higher prices too.
And the caveat? We will no longer have the same mass experience as consumers or society – though this can be a great thing, it may have transformative effect on politics, culture and education… so we’d better keep an eye out for these changes early on.
Thoughts? Share in the comments.

Posted in EU Affairs, Marketing

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