Mass customisation is a marketing technique in which the personalisation of products that are custom-made is done at a low per unit cost of mass production. This practice of providing market goods and services, modified as per instructions for a specified individual is also called made-to-order. Mass Customization can be regarded as a marketing and manufacturing method that merges flexibility and personalization. It leads the customer to design particular made-to-order features for a product where the cost keeps closer to that of a mass-produced product.
Did you know? Under mass customisation, products are also built to order as per the consumer’s requirements.
What is Mass Customisation?
Mass customisation allows a customer to personalise certain features/ parts of a product according to choice/ requirement while keeping the costs similar or close to the mass production prices. Mass customisation may be applied to several other fields like the software and financial services industry. The latter enjoys mass customisation in the form of rapidly growing independent advisory firms. Built-to-order is cost-effective with large-scale production for custom-made products. On the other hand, Mass production is recognized as the manufacturing of goods on a broader scale despite compromising quality. An example of mass customization would be custom-made jeans from Levi Strauss & Co.
The Types of Mass Customisation
There are four primary types of mass customisation.
- Collaborative customisation
- Adaptive customisation
- Transparent customisation
- Cosmetic customisation
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In this approach, the businesses have to interact with individual customers and offer them customised services and products. These products also guide the customers about what is in trend and what they should choose from the available options. They guide them to choose what they prefer. Such businesses while manufacturing products with distinct features consider the requirements and demands of the consumers.
In this case, there is no need for the business to coordinate with the customers to know their requirements. The customers are offered a standard product or service. The option to personalise, change, modify, or redesign a product is made available and request for the same is entertained. This customisation technique goes well with online businesses as they provide this option.
Under this type of customisation, the businesses do not interact with the customers directly. It provides unique products and services to specific customers. The customers are not informed that the products have been customised. Companies can do this by observing consumer behaviour and realising their preferences without the knowledge of the individual.
This refers to the standardised products and services in unique packages according to the requirements of the customers. Here customers are allowed the choice of customising the form, quantity, price, and packaging of the product.
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The Advantages of Mass Customisation
The advantages of the mass customisation strategy are mentioned below:
- Customers can opt for customisable design specifications, colours, patterns, etc.
- Improves the goodwill of the brand as customers keep visiting.
- Improves customer satisfaction.
- Brings down the per unit cost with an increase in production.
- Timely delivery is possible due to usage of existing technology and equipment.
- It provides brands and businesses a competitive advantage.
- It helps retain customers and maintain long-term relationships.
The Disadvantages of Mass Customisation
The disadvantages are given below:
- Companies are required to spend maintaining and building the manufacturing unit.
- Creating and managing online platforms for customisation.
- Increase in the time of production owing to custom-made products.
- Adversely affects the flow of supply chains.
- Manufacturing requires to maintain excess stock due to variable demand.
- Increases customer expectations and makes it challenging for businesses.
Mass Customisation Product Examples
Various companies adopt mass customisation techniques. The retail companies, creators of software, financial service companies, modular home builders, furniture manufacturers, and others are some of them. Companies offering customisation gain an advantage over the companies which offer only generic products.
- Independent financial advisors allow their clients to customise their portfolio holdings.
- Some furniture companies offer mass customisation through the choice of different fabrics and colours of upholstery, different legs on chairs/tables, and pieces of furniture that can be assembled in different configurations.
- Modular home builders also let their customers make changes in the base home package.
The Benefits of Mass Customisation
The following are the benefits of mass customisation:
- Increase in profits.
- Improved customer response.
- Streamlined production.
- Improved management of stock/ inventory.
Mass Customisation Strategy
With the ever-evolving technologies and techniques companies are now able to adopt product design strategies that are mass customisation supportive. The strategies that the brands adopt while offering mass product customisation to their consumers are:
- Modular customisation strategy
- Platform-based customisation strategy
- Similarity product customisation strategy
- Soft-customized product strategy
Modular Customisation Strategy
When co-creating a product, the modular customisation strategy focuses on removing the engineering effort. This is done to ascertain that the items can be produced independently of engineering involvement during the quote and order process.
Platform-Based Customisation Strategy
In this strategy, a common base is required which is customised later. Car manufacturers adopt this strategy to show different variations of the same car. The common base can also be employed to create different vehicles on top. This strategy when combined with the modular strategy will provide higher cost savings.
Similarity Product Customisation Strategy
Under this strategy, the design or dimensions of a product is slightly modified as per the requirement of the customer. This strategy is mostly used for industrial products but now some apparel brands too are using it to improve the fit of their clothes. To achieve similar product customisation, one has to gather the input data about the performance of the product and then compare it to the customer’s requirement. It involves looking for any similarities in product subsets and material selection in order to improve performance. Comparing designs of the product with baseline performance data can help solve the customer’s needs.
Soft-Customised Product Strategy
This strategy allows the customer to fulfil their wish without disturbing the manufacturing process. Since it is soft customisation, it can be added only after the manufacturing process is over because the retailer adds the monogram or a photo to a product to make it personalised.
Mass Customisation Challenges
Like any other venture, the mass customisation technique too has its pros and cons.
- Businesses need to maintain better coordination. Their chain of suppliers and distributors should be reliable and be able to meet the flexible production requirement. In case the company is depending on external suppliers and distributors such coordination is hard to come by. The vertical integration where distributors and suppliers operate under the company’s control might save the situation.
- The second limitation is the ever-evolving technology. In this scenario, the companies cannot support an old technology to support this technique. With time new competitors will come up with newer technology and the company will lag behind. Also, investing in new technology does not guarantee positive results.
- As the number of customers increases the complexity too follows. The company needs to see to the various requirements of its clientele.
- Another major reason why mass customisation fails is that the customers are reluctant to pay the premium price for a customised commodity. The customers will choose the company that is offering the minimum charges for the customisation of products. The more companies, the more alternatives for the customers.
We hope this article has been of help in providing information about mass customisation. Mass customisation is a very lucrative marketing strategy. Businesses offering customised products and services are a step ahead of their competitors or rival companies. This method can also help businesses deal with costs related to excess stock or inventory.
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