Thursday, September 23, 2010
By Katie Norwood
In today’s market, almost any product can be customized – the features of cars, cell phones, even computers can be upgraded with the consumer’s personal touch. Customized products have long been a favorite of trendsetters, creative types, and those who know exactly what they want – but it seems that customization now is growing popular with a wider market.
A recent article from Sara Needleman of the Wall Street Journal investigates the trend toward customization, and notes that while customized products “may cost more than their mass-produced counterparts, they’re still generally less expensive than luxury goods.” In this economy, the thinking goes, customization provides a unique and special shopping experience for consumers who crave high-end goods but who may not be able to afford luxury products.
Product customization also appeals to self-expression obsessed “Gen-Y”ers who appreciate, and have come to expect, a high level of customization in products and services. Expectations of the customized buying experience vary among consumers; as a recent study by Treehouse Logic notes, some people want endless customization options, while others are content with a modest array of choices.
Mass customization, which has been masterfully implemented by Dell, is another approach in which products are assembled according to customer specifications. Barry Berman of The Wall Street Journal argues that, from a practical perspective, mass customization is preferable to excessive product proliferation – after all, are 17 varieties of toothpaste really necessary? Yet, like the purchase of luxury goods, the purchase customized products is not so much driven by what consumers need, but rather what they want.
What do you think of the recent trend of product customization?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!
A native of Texas, Katie holds degrees from the University of Miami in public relations and art history. Her background is in PR and strategic communications and she has extensive experience with social media, as well as marketing campaigns and event planning.