Mass Customization: What, Why, How, and Examples | Cleverism (2023)

Mass customization is an important business concept, which numerous brands are adopting these days. Moreover, the concept is also utilized in the development of marketing strategies for product and service lines and during the process of recognizing the target audience of a brand or business.

Mass Customization: What, Why, How, and Examples | Cleverism (1)

© Shutterstock.com | JeremyRichards

In this article we start discussing 1) what is mass customization; going then to describe 2) approaches to mass customization; 3) how it is helpful for entrepreneurs?; 4) insights into modern concepts related to mass customization; and 5) challenges in mass customization.

WHAT IS MASS CUSTOMIZATION?

It deals with making changes to a product or service to satisfy a given consumer group. The changes could be as small as a variety of different flavors or colors or as complex as developing a completely new product for a particular client-base.

Mass customization combines the personalization and flexibility of custom-made business manufacturing and takes it to another level of mass production, which offers a lower unit cost. Therefore, different mass consumer groups are targeted in mass customization rather than targeting a single client. This concept is utilized in numerous business types for instance in software that allow users to change or add certain functionalities according to their requirement. Similarly, Macbooks are available in different RAM sizes, hard disk capacities and the outer finish to provide users exactly what they are looking for. Mass customization is also known as “build to order” or “made to order”.

APPROACHES TO MASS CUSTOMIZATION

There are four basic approaches to mass customization, depending on customization of the product itself or its representation.

Mass Customization: What, Why, How, and Examples | Cleverism (2)1. Collaborative Customization

Collaborative customizers talk to the clients to help them recognize what they need, to recognize factors that will fulfill those needs and to create customized products following those guidelines.

This approach falls under mass customization and is primarily meant for businesses with highly-customization-centric clientele. Moreover, this approach seeks to help clients who struggle to spot exactly what they want and find themselves confused between a huge variety of options. Through decreasing options for an individual client, a collaborative customizer helps to understand the needs of the customers and strives to make it clear to them.

2. Adaptive Customization

Businesses that follow the approach of adaptive customization offer one standard product to the customers along with a few customization options. This approach makes sure that the product is designed in a manner that it can be customized by the end client with absolute ease.

(Video) Mass Customization (Operations Management)

This approach is ideal for a client-base that has different expectations from the product in different situations and occasions. With the availability of technology, clients can easily customize the products on their own.

Pennsylvania’s Lutron Electronics Company forms the best example of this approach. Its clients can make use of its lighting systems to develop the required mood at home or to maximize productivity during the work hours through a wide range of available switches. The design of this lighting system enables clients to create different moods for reading, romantic moments or lively parties. It does so by connecting different lights together and enabling the clients to select the effects.

3. Cosmetic Customization

Cosmetic customizers advertize a standard product differently to different groups of clients. This approach works well when clients use the same product but want them to be presented differently. Such products are not customized but instead they are packaged differently to suit different kinds of customers.

For instance, the benefits and attributes of a product are advertized in a different manner, it is displayed in a different way, promotional programs are communicated and designed differently, and the product mostly carries the client’s name. Although this type of customization is, as its name suggests; cosmetic, it offers great value to a lot of clients. Each year, clients spend billions of dollars on products such as named sweatshirts and T-shirts.

The Planters Company (Nabisco) made use of cosmetic customization to fulfill dissimilar merchandising requirements of its retail clients. As compared to Dominick, Jewel demanded diverse promotional packages while Wal-Mart demanded more mixed nuts and peanuts as compared to 7-Eleven and Safeway. The standard packages of Planters only included small, medium, and large sized cans in the past. However, now the company can easily switch between diverse shipping containers, labels, and sizes to satisfy the demands of its customers.

4. Transparent Customization

Transparent Customization deals with providing customized products to individual clients without telling them that the products are exclusively produced for them.

This approach work in cases where the customer does not want to repeat what she/he needs incessantly or when client needs are predictable or obvious.

Businesses that deal in a transparent customization examine client’s behavior without direct communication with them and then discreetly customize their products for them.

Ohio’s ChemStation has successfully recognized the needs of its customers and has presented them with amazing, standard products. Its industrial soap that can be used for commercial uses like a factory floor cleaning and car washing was whole-heartedly accepted by the market when it launched. ChemStation also analyzes the washing requirements of each customer and produces suitable detergents for them. The company maintains a record of the client’s usage pattern through continuous monitoring and delivers soap to their houses when it is about to fall short without needing the customers to call up and place the order.

(Video) Mass Customization Made Simple

HOW IT IS HELPFUL FOR ENTREPRENEURS?

It is true that mass customization caters to the masses, but that does not mean that it is only meant for big corporations and brands. In fact, it provides a lot of assistance, food-for-thought and motivation to entrepreneurs as well. First and foremost, as you apply the concept of mass customization to the designing process, as an entrepreneur you will have a remarkable amount of creativity to deal with. It refines the design phase and modifies it to satisfy the customers in the best way possible.

This concept mainly deals with the consumer and helps entrepreneurs in identifying who their customers are and what are their likes. Since all customers like to be treated in a special manner, mass customization can bring great business benefits to entrepreneurs if they deal with it in the right manner.

There are different approaches and types of mass customization, and hence entrepreneurs can use this production method in the way that suits them the best. Adaptive customization is probably the most utilized type of mass customization among entrepreneurs, as in this production technique standard products are created which can be customized by the users according to their requirements. Since the customized production only begins when the order is placed, there is a lesser chance of a loss.

Therefore, in the current scenario where businesses are all ears to the expectations and needs of the clients and customers are willing to pay extra to ‘feel good’, mass customization leads entrepreneurs to the right way with the right kind of products and customization options.

INSIGHTS INTO MODERN CONCEPTS RELATED TO MASS CUSTOMIZATION

How mass customization has evolved?

The global production industry began with mass production, which focused on producing standardized products for the masses. However, the focus began shifting to the consumers in the 20th Century where all commercial sectors such as retail, service, technology, and manufacturing started taking the likes and dislikes of the consumers very seriously. This is because the customers were evolving, and the demands began to vary from customer to customer.

Currently, the concept of mass customization is being used in businesses like high-end boutiques where exclusive outfits are created for women according to their taste. However, different sectors are also benefiting from it through the usage of technology that is making it easier to create customized products for masses. Majority of the marketing and production experts think that the concept is here to stay.

If mass customization is conducted on products that are exchanged from one business to another, it is referred to as a continuation of total quality management; whereas when it is conducted for the end customer, it is called ‘egonomics’. It does not matter which industry it operates in, latest information technology allows companies to track consumer preferences, and user-friendly manufacturing machinery allows end-products to satisfy those preferences.

Distribution Channels

An effective distribution and sales system is required to enable customization, as it needs a system through which the product could be channeled to the end customer. In fact, some companies use the distribution method as the mass customization process whereas other companies alter and make modifications to their delivery systems to ensure customization.

Companies such as Levi Strauss, The Custom Foot, and Ascot Chang make use of retail models that require them to employ trained and professional sales staff to take custom measurements in the factory outlet of the brand. After manufacturing, these brands directly ship the customized product to the client.

(Video) Mass Customization: Definition | Beispiele | Strategien von Prof. Dr. Thomas Aichner

Mass customization requires trained sales representatives at outlets so that the concept can be implemented. On the other hand, there are numerous manufacturers who have adapted mass customization in alternative distribution and sales channels. For instance, after 10 years of using middlemen retail shops such as Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus, Brenda French took her clothing brand to a next level through selling all of the items via in-house trunk shows. After years of manufacturing clothing for women, she realized that every woman wanted something different for herself and hence she began customizing for her clients and sending the orders directly to their house.

According to Brenda French, a company needs to have a factory or a production unit in order to mass-customize. Outsourcing the customization process to another company or individual cannot make this process work, according to French.

The delivery systems in mass customization for business-to-business products are different. For instance, Ohio based detergent manufacturer, ChemStation, uses an inventive distribution system, which makes use of 41 digitally connected production units all across the country to combine its custom cleaning products. The company began offering customized detergents to clients according to the kind of stains they were battling against.

Current Trends and Technology

Automated-manufacturing-machinery incorporated with an order-taking structure is important for mass-customized production lines. Numerous mass producing companies combine the order-taking structures with an internet-based client interface.

Internet has created a lot of opportunities for mass customization and has made companies responsible to maintain a continuous interaction with the clients in real-time. This has renewed the delivery systems with customers always staying on top of the updates through various mobile apps, emails, regular updates from the company or the online progress tracking system (if the company has any).

Numerous companies such as Individual.com, News page and Yahoo are utilizing the Internet to create customized news items for the visitors whereas a rising number of businesses are using the ease of the online platform to enable the clients to design their products. Music based companies such as Volatile Media and Musicmaker have become successful in this arena through delivering customized CDs.

The Future of Mass Customization

According to some business theorists, mass customization is most likely to replace mass production. This is true for numerous operational businesses as mass customization reduces production overruns and wasteful expenditures. However, for majority of the businesses, mass customization is the best available option only if the option of mass production is not available. Currently, all companies that are custom-producing their product lines are charging a premium price as compared to companies that are mass-producing.

The responsive market of today seems to like the idea of being the center of attention and is willing to pay a higher price for it. For instance, in Levi Strauss, 80% of the custom ordered jeans fall under the categories of the available sizes – the clients still choose to custom order through the ‘Personal Pair’ method of the company to feel satisfied and have a feeling of control. The Custom Foot’s Keegan confirms the same client behavior.

We no longer have consumers that are dumb and have big corporations dictating to them what they want. In fact, with the alert public of today, the power structure has been altered forever because businesses have to focus on customers if they wish to stay in the competition and this shows that mass customization will keep moving forward.

(Video) Mass Customisation - Pros & Cons

MASS CUSTOMIZATION CHALLENGES

Challenges with higher costs: Probably the biggest challenge of mass customization is the fact that it is not an appropriate option for all markets, clients and products. Most customers are not interested in having a customized light bulb or washing detergent. Moreover, customized products cost more and clients have to wait in order to get them. For instance, regular Chinos by Land cost around $35 whereas a custom pair costs around $54.

Successful for luxury and not successful for basic products: If we take into consideration the prospect of making profits and doing good business, then for most business types the profits earned by the customization does not outweigh the complexity and cost of producing customized products. The Yankee Group’s Lisa Melsted believes that mass customization is not an economically feasible option for most businesses and primarily depends on the product type. This concept works better for high-end, luxury items such as designer wear and cars.

Challenges with return of customized product: Mass customization also creates a lot of problems for the manufacturers when the products get returned. Mainly, this does not happen as the product is created according to the likes of the customer but some returns will take place. In such cases, businesses that do not have mechanisms to reverse the customization tend to face many issues. Moreover, the chances of another client wanting the same product as someone else are too narrow, which can put the business in a tricky situation. Therefore, majority of such companies do not have any return policies or simply bear the loss of return in case it allows it.

Challenges with supply chains: The biggest obstacle to mass customization is the fact that most businesses’ supply chains cannot efficiently handle it. The systems of suppliers are mostly optimized and designed for producing prearranged amount of products rather than catering to any unforeseen demand. Many do not even integrate latest supply-chain management applications like just-in-time inventory and automated planning, which results in lesser flexibility, specificity, and visibility with mass customization.

  • Supply chains in the current business world are based on the push model whereas the ones associated with mass customization are based on the pull model, which is unimaginably difficult to manage.
  • Such supply-chain problems can only be solved if businesses compromise between mass customization and mass production to create standard products and configure them in a manner that they can be customizable in the future. For majority of the businesses, it is not economically feasible to start the customization process in the start of the supply chain.

This means that most businesses will only be able to implement mass customization in a partial manner. However, even this partiality can offer advantages to manufacturers. As the concept increases the scope of a product, it helps manufactures to cater to different types of consumer markets. It also introduces manufacturers to new target markets and allows them to explore the possibility of manufacturing products for them.

Mass customization is going to take a few years before it becomes a household name. Even then, it will more likely be a rough adaptation of conventional mass production, according to some theorists. On the contrary, products that cannot exist without customization will be customized no matter what happens to this concept.

Mass Customization: What, Why, How, and Examples | Cleverism (3)

FAQs

What is mass customization with example? ›

Examples of Mass Customization

Certain furniture companies offer mass customization by providing multiple options for various components or features. This flexibility may include different fabrics, furniture legs, or pieces that combine in numerous configurations.

What mass customization means? ›

Mass customization combines the efficiencies of mass production with the ability to customize individual products according to customer specifications. Previously limited to software and services, digital manufacturing techniques have made mass customization viable for physical products as well.

What is customization with example? ›

What is customization? Customization is done by the user. Users are asked to identify their preferences and they are then shown things that they prefer. For example, when customers sign up for Netflix, the service asks users to select a few shows they like and then displays a list of options based on those choices.

Why is mass customization important? ›

A mass customization program allows consumers to design products that fit their individual needs relatively easily using different design and style options provided for a specific product. By possessing these unique and individualized products, consumers perceive higher benefits (Simonson, 2005).

What are examples of customized products? ›

Customization of products means a customer can select features like color, design, functionalities, add-on components or other options to make a more unique item rather than a mass produced one. For example, a shoe company can allow customers to design and order a one-of-a-kind sneakers through their online platform.

What is mass production examples? ›

Examples of mass production include the following: canned goods. over-the-counter drugs. household appliances.

Is Netflix an example of mass customization? ›

Types Of Mass Customization

The digital media streaming service Netflix, for example, recommends a list of shows and movies for its viewers based on their viewing history. Another example is hotels, which provide various ancillary services to consumers based on their behavior.

What is customization used for? ›

Customization lets users make their own selections about what they want to see, or set preferences for how information is organized or displayed. It can enhance user experience because it allows users to control their interaction.

What are mass customization characteristics? ›

The key feature of mass customization is the capability to integrate the product varieties derived from the individual customer's needs with repetition of modularity and the efficiency of mass production, so that the products are affordable due to low product cost achieved by the scale of economy in production.

How do you get mass customization? ›

There are three areas of focus to achieve successful mass customization. First, identify the customization opportunities that deliver good value to customers. Second, determine a cost structure to manufacture the products while remaining profitable. Third, assist customers in building solutions to address their needs.

Which of the following is not an example of mass customization? ›

The answer is Option A. A custom degree program created by a college is not an example of mass customization.

What are three types of customization that occur? ›

There are three major approaches of customization: true, selected, and guide.

What are the types of customization? ›

Types of Mass Customization
  • Collaborative Customization. Companies work in collaboration with customers who cannot articulate what they want and are not in a position to specify their preferred options. ...
  • Adaptive Customization. ...
  • Cosmetic Customization. ...
  • Transparent Customization.
18 Oct 2022

What are the advantages and disadvantages of mass Customisation? ›

Pros & Cons of Mass Customization
  • Higher customer retention since products have options and are tailored to personal tastes.
  • Fewer unfinished goods need to be stored, reducing overhead costs.
  • Quick, efficient production process from start to finish.
  • A higher price point for customized products, which means higher profits.

What is the advantage of customization? ›

Personalising products doesn't just help increase sales, it also keeps your customers satisfied, which promotes loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations. A study by Deloitte suggests that, on average, in different retail sectors, 36% of consumers would consider buying customised products or services.

What are customized items? ›

Customized products are unique and built-to-order. Typically these products have a large number of variants, such as furniture with different materials and colors, and jewelry with different settings and stones. Or they may be personalized, like t-shirts with printed logos and picture frames with a name engraved.

What is customized design? ›

A custom or customized design is something built to a specific order. A fitting example of custom design is a 'custom-made wedding gown' where the dress is created as directed by the bride-to-be. The client usually gives the directions or asks the designer for their suggestion to create something unique.

What is customization in brand? ›

Customization is when a customer can modify or improvise on a product offered by the brand. Customization has quickly gained traction in the e-commerce market and has grabbed the attention of businesses. Connecting with customers. Customers are the most important aspect of any business.

What are 3 examples of production? ›

8 Examples of Production
  • Job Production. Manufacturing a custom part for an infrastructure project.
  • Batch Production. A bakery that produces a batch of 1200 blueberry muffins.
  • Mass Production. A factory that produces lightweight bicycle tires on a continuous flow production line.
  • Mass Customization.
6 Mar 2017

What are two examples of production? ›

Production is the process of making, harvesting or creating something or the amount of something that was made or harvested. An example of production is the creation of furniture. An example of production is harvesting corn to eat. An example of production is the amount of corn produced.

Why is mass production used? ›

The aim of mass production is to ensures that the whole process of manufacturing remains at the lowest cost possible while turning out the highest volumes possible. Producing products in bulk results in their individual cost being decreased.

Does Nike use mass customization? ›

Back in 1999, Nike was the first to implement the idea of mass customization. With NikeiD, the company created the industry's first popular platform, allowing potential customers to buy shoes with a customized look and feel in terms of comfort, color, and style.

Does Apple use mass customization? ›

Adding customized elements doesn't have to be a costly endeavor, or disruptive to production lines. Apple found the perfect mass customization option with iPods and iPhones by offering after-market product engraving for personalization.

How is Netflix personalized? ›

"Personalized recommendations on the Netflix Homepage are based on a user's viewing habits and the behavior of similar users. These recommendations, organized for efficient browsing, enable users to discover the next great video to watch and enjoy without additional...

What is mass customization in management? ›

Mass customization refers to a business process of providing customized goods and services that best meet individual customer's needs. It reaps the benefits of flexibility, integration, and personalization to produce custom-made products with low unit costs at near mass production efficiency.

What is mass customization in fashion? ›

Mass customization in the apparel industry refers to producing a personalized style by adopting individual consumer taste, at the right time and at the right cost.

What are mass customization characteristics? ›

The key feature of mass customization is the capability to integrate the product varieties derived from the individual customer's needs with repetition of modularity and the efficiency of mass production, so that the products are affordable due to low product cost achieved by the scale of economy in production.

Does Nike use mass customization? ›

Back in 1999, Nike was the first to implement the idea of mass customization. With NikeiD, the company created the industry's first popular platform, allowing potential customers to buy shoes with a customized look and feel in terms of comfort, color, and style.

Is Netflix an example of mass customization? ›

Types Of Mass Customization

The digital media streaming service Netflix, for example, recommends a list of shows and movies for its viewers based on their viewing history. Another example is hotels, which provide various ancillary services to consumers based on their behavior.

What is the benefit of customization? ›

The benefits of customization are considerable for both you and your customers. Of course, personalization gives the customer the exact product they're looking for. But most importantly, it can help boost revenue by increasing margins and conversions.

Is Apple mass customization? ›

Adding customized elements doesn't have to be a costly endeavor, or disruptive to production lines. Apple found the perfect mass customization option with iPods and iPhones by offering after-market product engraving for personalization.

Who started mass customization? ›

The term “mass customization” was first popularized by Joseph Pine, who defined it as “developing, producing, marketing and delivering affordable goods and services with enough variety and customization that nearly everyone finds exactly what they want.”2 In other words, the goal is to provide customers what they want ...

How do you get mass customization? ›

There are three areas of focus to achieve successful mass customization. First, identify the customization opportunities that deliver good value to customers. Second, determine a cost structure to manufacture the products while remaining profitable. Third, assist customers in building solutions to address their needs.

Does Adidas use mass customization? ›

Adidas was an early believer in 3D printing's transformative potential and is leveraging the technology to bring mass customization to its customers.

Does Adidas use mass production? ›

Adidas and Carbon, an innovative 3D printing and manufacturing technology company, have formed a partnership in order to revolutionize these traditional archaic production practices and transform the industry from one of mass production to mass customization [1].

Is mass customization sustainable? ›

Mass customization can make fashion more sustainable if customers are willing to wait for it. The fashion industry produces far more inventory than it sells, consuming and polluting more of the planet's resources than necessary and generating about 10% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Videos

1. MASS PRODUCTION TO MASS CUSTOMIZATION
(Technical & Quality Session)
2. Everything You Need to Know about Mass Customization
(ImprintNext)
3. Mass customization with Examples | Optimization in Production
(TechZion)
4. Mass Customization
(Ready Productions)
5. What Is Mass Customisation?
(Custom Gateway)
6. Cimpress Talks - Ep. 6: Understanding the Mass customization Industry and the Technology Behind it
(Cimpress)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Melvina Ondricka

Last Updated: 10/29/2022

Views: 5578

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (48 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Melvina Ondricka

Birthday: 2000-12-23

Address: Suite 382 139 Shaniqua Locks, Paulaborough, UT 90498

Phone: +636383657021

Job: Dynamic Government Specialist

Hobby: Kite flying, Watching movies, Knitting, Model building, Reading, Wood carving, Paintball

Introduction: My name is Melvina Ondricka, I am a helpful, fancy, friendly, innocent, outstanding, courageous, thoughtful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.