Mass Customization Marketing Experiment Results

Shapeways with an agile backflip.
Those of you who read the previous Ponoko blog post on Shapeways price increase of their best selling item may be interested to read how their experimental pricing policy turned out

Our BrandingIrons became a huge hit thanks to BoingBoing, Wired, a lot of other blogs and many twitter peoples. I then decided that it would be interesting and a good idea to raise the price of the BrandingIrons by $20. Instead of $25 they would now cost $45. The idea was that these custom BrandingIrons could then do more to subsidize the Shapeways community. It was an experiment in reversing the ‘loss leader’ idea to create a ‘profit leader’ that would build the foundations for thousands of new creations in the future.
This was a mistake and we are going to go back to our original pricing of $25. So the marketing person’s headline for this post should be, “Huge price cut on customizable branding Irons”

In response to the slowdown of sales and some negative feedback, Shapeways has reversed the price raise and reimbursing the people that brought BrandingIrons at the higher price. I think this shows a few really admirable qualities for a company in the business of mass customization including:

willingness to experiment, openly.

Agility to try something innovative and then correct it when it goes pear shaped.

Reimbursing customers/co-creators, even though the purchaser willingly paid for the customized object at the higher price.

What loyalty may have been lost with their initial experiment, must surely be gained by their response.

via Shapeways Blog

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Pricing is a tough one to get right… especially when it comes to products that are more “wants” than “needs.”

Jon @

Kristen Turner

Experimenting is admirable, yes. The whole idea seems very un-American too. Actually, everything about Shapeways seems artsy and un-American. And I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. But I’m not surprised to hear that the pricing strategy didn’t work out.

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