Chapter 7

Mass Customization

“I swear nothing is good to me now that ignores individuals.”

Walt Whitman (1819–1892)

To the extent that individuals have expectations, interests, wants and experiences that differ from one another, they need to receive individualized treatment. This is the very essence and starting point for management of customer relationships. Individualized treatment, in turn, requires that organizations think about how best to modify their own products, services and processes to engage with each individual customer uniquely. For many organizations, one outgrowth of this consideration is mass customization. This chapter explores mass customization and considers selected alternative strategies and implementation considerations.

Mass Customization Defined

Mass customization can be defined as the process of providing and supporting individually tailored goods and services, according to each customer's preferences with regard to form, time, place and price, and doing so profitably. Mass customization considers customization of each aspect of the 4Ps: products and services, pricing, promotion and communications, and place/distribution channels.

Mass marketers historically viewed mass customization as interesting in theory but too expensive to implement practically, particularly if mass customization would result in considerable additional expense, such as could be the case for new equipment or a plant overhaul. Today, mass customization is considered more practical ...

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