Background Research

Mass Customization is a phenomenon that was going to change the consumer landscape. However, by at large we still buy manufactured goods the way we have since the middle of last century. With the exception of custom-crafted luxury goods like bespoke tailored suits and mega-yachts, most of our purchases are still very standardized, and “customization” means picking the 256GB hard drive over the 128GB, or selecting the Sport Package for your new car. Physical product customizers such as Nike iD and Moto Maker have earned strong customer followings, but they’re still closer to “designed for me” than the “designed by me” experience we’ve been promised. (Sohrab Vossoughi, 2013)

Mass Customization is a concept that offer personalised products or services which meet the demands of each individual customer, but can still be produced and delivered with mass production efficiency.

The core idea of mass customization is to turn customers’ heterogeneous needs into an opportunity to create value, rather than a problem to be minimized, challenging the “one size fits all” assumption of traditional mass production. The concept of mass customization makes business sense in these times. Why wouldn’t people want to be treated as individual customers, with products tailored to their specific needs? But mass customization has been trickier to implement than first anticipated. The key to profiting from mass customization is to see it not as a stand-alone business strategy that is replacing today’s production and distribution systems, but as a set of organizational capabilities that can supplement and enrich an existing system.

The idea of Mass Customization has been around for a long time—Levi Strauss offered custom jeans for 10 years starting in 1993, for example—but it never caught on. In recent years, technology advances have made it easier for retailers to offer online design tools that any consumer can understand, and to fulfill orders for customized goods in a timely, efficient manner. Furthermore, retailers are motivated by the ability to charge premiums for customized products, and to engage each customer with advanced 3D computer graphics that make, say, that jacket you just designed on screen look about as close to real life as you can get.

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