Mass Customization (MC) is becoming a significant market trend, notably in the food industry. Mass customization can be applied to extrinsic characteristics like packaging and design but also to intrinsic elements such as recipes and ingredients. For example, mymuesli.com allows their customers to select their favorite ingredients to make their own muesli, while Nestlé has created a unique analysis system that consumers use to discover their “chocolate personality”, following which a box of Maison Cailler chocolates carefully selected according to their personal preferences is sent to them. From another industry, we can also cite Dell which pioneered custom-configured computers, where customers can choose their computer’s processor, memory, storage and other equipment. Why do many companies show interest for mass customization? Because it can be advantageous for them in different ways. Alcimed digs into four key benefits of mass customization to show you how it can improve the competitiveness of your company.
1. Differentiate yourself from your competitors
Mass customization requires three main actions from companies:
– Distinguishing the product attributes along which customer needs can vary (the aspects of the product that are customizable)
– Reusing or reorganizing existing production (adapting the production to customization)
– And helping customers recognize or create solutions to their own demands (leave some space for customer feedback to learn about their needs).
These actions allow companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors, in their internal organization as well as in their external image to the customers.
2. Capitalize on your economies of scale
Mass customization benefits companies by ensuring cost advantages obtained due to their scale of operation, with cost per unit of output decreasing with increasing scale. Companies can produce in mass while keeping costs low. Indeed, costs related to customization operations must be considered but can be optimized.
3. Ensure rapid delivery
Mass customization remains “superficial” as the vast majority of the production chain remains unchanged: only a few elements are really customizable. For example, Coca-Cola continues to mass produce its trademark glass bottles and will simply adapt its printer to print out the label with the customer’s personalized message, which is then stuck to the glass bottle. This will not significantly impact the time of delivery of the product to the customer.
4. Improve customer experience
Mass Customization allows for personalized products tailored to the customer’s taste. They can choose their favorite colors, designs, ingredients, etc. This can lead to a form of premiumization, meaning the upgrading of an existing product with add-ons, offering it in a “premium” or “luxury” version by the creation of specific packaging, conditioning, or limited series. This can have an effect on the brand image as a whole.
Mass Customization combines the best of both worlds: mass production which minimizes production costs, and customization to provide customers with a unique product. All these 4 benefits combined allow companies to “push” their competitors in the competitive landscape, as differentiation, economies of scale, ensured rapid delivery and improved customer experience and brand image can eventually lead to an expansion of market share. Competitors will have to adapt to Mass Customization. For example, almost all fast-food chains propose the customization of their burgers to let the customer be king. And you? How could your company position itself on the market with mass customization? Let’s explore this production strategy together!
About the authors
Paul, Consultant in the Alcimed team in Switzerland
Quentin, Project Manager in the Alcimed team in Switzerland
Victor, Senior Business Development Manager in the Alcimed team in Switzerland
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