The Four Faces of Mass Customization

According to James H. Gilmore & B. Joseph Pine II in their 1997 essay, there are four defining approaches to Mass Customization:
Collaborative: Where customers conduct a dialogue with businesses to identify their needs, and a customized product is made to fulfill their specifications.
Adaptive: Companies produce a standardized product that is customizable in the hands of the consumer.
Transparent: Manufacturers provide individual customers with unique products, without explicitly telling them that the products are customized. The importance of research into consumer needs is critical here.
& Cosmetic: Is when a company produces a standard product but package differently for different customers (especially in business to business scenarios)

Currently what is important in all instances as far as the manufacturer is concerned is that they only allow mass customization of those parts which will provide the most differentiation to the consumer, yet as little variation as possible to make it economically viable.

This angle of approach may slowly be changing as more niche markets and bespoke producers start to compete with larger corporations. Armed with digital manufacturing technologies these smaller, nimble manufacturers will increasingly be able to produce more individualized products primarily using collaborative and adaptive techniques.

3 Responses to “The Four Faces of Mass Customization”

  1. » Helpful Links » links for 2008-05-01 Says:

    […] The four faces of mass customisation It’s not just social media that’s changing things, it’s … well, it’s everything! Manufacturing, for instance… (tags: masscustomisation masscustomization) […]

  2. Ponoko Blog Says:

    […] As Duann mentioned in his post on The Four Faces of Mass Customization, Xoddo is of the Adaptive sort. And I think it works really well, especially for a product intended for children. Here are some pictures of actual samples. It looks like all of the fabrics are being digitally printed… a topic I promise to write about soon. //OBSTART:do_NOT_remove_this_comment var OutbrainPermaLink=””; var OB_demoMode = false; if(typeof(OB_Script)!=’undefined’){ OutbrainStart(); }else{ var OB_Script = true; var OB_langJS =””; document.write (“”); } //OBEND:do_NOT_remove_this_comment […]

  3. Ponoko Blog Says:

    […] Joseph Pine, one of the leading thinkers in the field of mass customization has published numerous books and articles focusing on the field of mass customization and user enabled design. TED talks has recently released his 2004 presentation on what consumers really want, Authenticity. Pine discusses in his presentation how the relationship between commodities, products and services have evolved into an experience economy where authenticity is now prized as an idealized tradable commodity but the catch is any mass produced or manufactured product is inherently inauthentic? […]