Consumer Mass Customization
Frank Piller et al:
"many initiatives of consumer mass customization have been developed recently. Indeed, not a month has gone by without a major mass customization initiative by an established company or a new start-up. Some good examples of mass customization in consumer goods that were launched recently are Germany’s MyMuesli (customized cereal), Blends For Friends (create your own tea blend), Conde Nast’s TasteBook (customized cookbook with your favorite recipes), or John Maeda’s innovative configurator for Reebok that turns the favorite song of a user into a custom sneaker style. A segment of mass customization that has been exploding recently is the market of user-created photo books, including providers such as Picaboo, LuLu, CeWe, Blurb, Moo, and many others. Zazzle and Cafepress take a similar approach of selling custom printed T-shirts, coffee mugs, mouse pads, and more. There are also mass customizing companies producing children books (flattenme), customized jewellery (Paragon Lake), dolls (My Twinn) and even bras (Zyrra). All these companies reported high double-digit sales and growth in the last year.
Another very interesting approach has Zapfab or Fabidoo, two user manufacturing start-ups which offer a new way of delivering individualized, customized products. They are combining the creativity of user-generated content with the power of 3D Printing (fabbing). 3D Printing is rapidly gaining ground as a way of creating real, physical objects from 3D design data. Zapfab provides an easy way to access this technology: Once you have generated a 3D design you can choose to have it 3D printed: Zapfab will 3D print the design and deliver the finished object to you. Or consider the great custom USB sticks at Fabidoo, turning a ubiquitous commodity into a real piece of personality.
Mass customization offers companies the flexibility to minimize new product development risk, but this flexibility does not come without costs. This strategy requires a redesign of the products and processes. This includes the creation of modular product family structures and often heavy investments in new flexible machinery equipment. For mass customization, also an elicitation system has to be in place to access the preferences of each individual customer and to transfer them into a precise product definition. Thus, while mass customization has plenty of opportunities, it will not become the dominating strategy of user co-creation." (http://www.we-magazine.net/volume-01/mass-customization-and-beyond/)