Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Only Mass Customization, Not There Yet...

Yesterday in class we tried stubbornly to think of a company that switched from mass production to complete mass customization. We shot around some ideas about general products - eyeglasses, IT infrastructure, etc., and we even came up with some technical companies that only do mass customization. But, we failed to come up with one solid example of a company that made a complete transition. The closest example we could come up with, in my opinion, was Ferrari. However, I would argue that Ferrari still doesn’t meet out strict definition. As long as they have dealers where you can purchase a Ferrari off the lot, then they don’t count as a sole mass customizer. Although, I do think Ferrari helps in building an understanding of what kind of company might benefit more from mass customization. It would more than likely be a company that has very specific demands from its customers, who, in turn, are not afraid to spend a lot on a product. So, I set out this morning to find an example of a company that could really be viewed as a pioneer, doing a complete 180 from mass production to sole mass customization.

I started investigated some companies that family members had mentioned selling complicated and crafted products. I investigated Taylor Guitars and Build-a-Bear, but, after visiting their websites, I discovered that these companies also offer ready-to-go products. After searching around for about an hour, a few of the same names came up again and again. None of them, however, have gone the complete route of mass customization. It seems, at least this is the impression that I’m getting, that it’s just too soon for companies to embrace this sort of change. I imagine it’s because there is still too much profit to be made in “stocking shelves.”

Nike and Dell seem to still take the lead in mass customization, but they are being followed by more traditional companies that you would be surprised to hear about. Kraft and M&Ms, for example, are delving into the world of mass customization, offering customizable products for special occasions, and a slew of start-ups dealing in clothing, jewelry, and food products are offering more customized versions of their products than wholesale. However, I still haven’t found an example of one relatively well-known company that has completely shifted from mass production to mass customization.

I’m going to continue passively looking around, but if anyone out there has a good example, please post your comment below.


  1. Hi Mark,
    Nice article and I must say the same thought occupied my mind after the class.
    I was thinking how companies have blended mass production and customization in order to full fill customer needs.

    For example - Sony provides different color panels which customers can fix on their Viao laptops and give it a different look all 7 days of the week.

    Or even companies which provide customized gift products.
    How about IT services companies that provide software solutions that fit customer needs. ?? would they be categorized as companies that provide mass customized solutions.

  2. Thanks for the post, Varun!

    It does seem to me that IT companies really are the best model of mass customization. That or companies which produce high-end luxury items. As far as a company that went from mass production to mass customization, and isn't turning back, I haven't come up with an answer yet.

    I'll be sure to check out the Viao laptops and their 7 days a week feature.

    Thanks again!



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