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Wither Mass Customization?

Posted by: Nanette Byrnes on August 6, 2008

I recently came across Keds new Design Studio inviting customers to design their own footwear, or at least modify it a bit. Though it looks to be aimed more at soccer moms than cutting edge teen fashionistas, the move reminded me of something similar Adidas started doing a few years ago. That was included in a story on marketing to men:

The more these teens can alter what they’re buying, the happier they are. One of the most popular brands with male teens today is Adidas. The sneaker maker’s in-store events, where kids can decorate their own shoes, is a sign the company gets it. T-shirt Web store is among the top five sites with teen males, who like the designs but also embrace its democratic ethos. Over 300,000 registered users design, review, and buy the T-shirts, which are produced in limited runs of 1,000.

With Dell, pioneer of mass customization, seeming to put its struggles behind it, maybe the idea is still ablaze. Or maybe not. A deeper look shows Dell’s possible salvation has a lot more to do with decidedly more standardized gizmos, like lap tops, than the build-your-own PCs they pioneered.

So do we all want to participate in making our own stuff? Or is mass customization ultimately limited in its appeal? Keds’new launch is either evidence this trend has legs or a sign that it’s topping out, I’m just not sure which.


Also, on an earlier topic, Vice, it’s worth taking a look at this story about businessman gambler Steve Wynn upping his bet on high-end Las Vegas.

Reader Comments

Anita Windisman

August 21, 2008 8:00 PM

Hi Nanette,

Of course we want to participate in making our own stuff! Whether you call it mass customization, co-creation, crowdsourcing, user-generated, it's all the same - being part of creative process. You are unique, so why should the products you consume be mass produced? Customization is definitely growing in its appeal as a business model. The emergence of Web 2.0 along with its social networking and collaboration tools has certainly made it easy for such businesses to thrive. I have a whole blog devoted to the fascinating topics of mass customization, personalization, as well as one-to-one marketing. It's called "Flexistuff" and can be found at: I'm also working on a book on the same topic.

Anita Windisman
One of a Kind Publishing

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