18 04, 2012

New Blog Series: Featured Companies from the MC500 (Part 2): Converse.com

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:19+00:00 April 18th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, Footwear, MC500, Sneaker|

MC500_Signet_2012In our series of postings introducing companies that performend very well in our Customization 500 study, we are introducing the next mass customizer. Remember:  The order of these feature postings is more or less randomly!

 

Today: Street Style Classic Converse.com

 

Founded in Massachusetts in 1908 and today a subsidiary of global producer of sport goods Nike, Converse allows consumers to create footwear with an absolutely distinctive style. Originally designed as basketball shoes (and still to day worn by some NBA superstars in their games), the converse sneaker was one of the early products in this category that can be customized by every consumer. 

 

Converse

Note: Please see this post for detailed information on how to interpret the above data. 

12 04, 2012

New Blog Series: Featured Companies from the MC500 (Part 1): Mymuesli.com

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:21+00:00 April 12th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, MC500|

MC500_Signet_2012The Customization 500 is the world's most comprehensive benchmark study of online configuration and mass customization offerings. In a new series of weekly postings, we will introduce some of companies that our expert evaluators pointed out as best in class. The order of these feature postings is more or less randomly! We will try to introduce different industries among the following weeks.

 

Today: Custom Food Specialist my muesli.com

 

Today's featured company is mass customization pioneer mymuesli.com. Established in 2007, the German company offers it's customers to create their very own mix of cereals from 80+ ingredients. There is likely a fitting mixture for everybody in the about 566 quadrillion possible combinations. After a strong growth just from the beginning, company has been developing very well in the last years. Recently, they installed the world's largest automatic muesli mixing machine.

 

Mymuesli_cut

Note: How are these figures to be interpreted?

We used more than 40 parameters to evaluate the state and design features of each toolkit in our study:

Data presented for each Customization 500 company

This objective data was then matched with the performance outcome of the toolkit, i.e. the perception of our trained experts of the configurator.

For this evaluation, we used five criteria to measure the performance of a configuration toolkit in our sample:

  • Visual Realism was measured by means of one question “How realistic do you assess the visualization of the configuration process?”
  • To measure usability, the evaluators were asked to rate: "The configurator is (1) intuitively usable, (2) user-friendly as well as (3) clearly and (4) logically structured".
  • The creativity factor consisted of two items: "(1) The website gave me a lot of freedom", and "(2) I could give my creativity free rein while designing the product".
  • To determine enjoyment, the experts had to rate: "The configuration was (1) fun, (2) delight, (3) pleasure, (4) entertaining and (5) interesting".
  • To assess uniqueness following statements had to be evaluated: "My created product (1) is unique, (2) is different, (3) helps me to differentiate; and (4) no one else has such a product."

Interested in more? Here is more information about the Customization 500 (and the option to order the full study now so that you do not have to wait for 41.6 years to read all profiles).

22 03, 2012

The Million Dollar Zazzle Innovation Challenge: And the Winner is … SELVE

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:34+00:00 März 22nd, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Design, General, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, T-Shirts, Technologies & Enablers|

Zazzle_bannerToday, the winner of the "One Million-Dollar Zazzle Innovation Challenge" has been announced. The contest was launched during the MCPC 2011 conference and saw an enormous participation with about 1,000 entrants submitting their proposal.

Zazzle_awardDuring the last days, a panel of judges picked the winner, which was presented during a nice ceremony at the Haas School of Business of the UC Berkeley today. At the left, a few impressions of the day:

  • Henry Chesbrough opened the event with a very nice talk about the promise of mass customization;
  • Jeff Beaver from Zazzle addressed the audience and introduced the finalists,
  • Elizabeth Miller, Head of Creative at HASBRO, presented a great talk on the power of personalization and how a large company like Hasbro can benefit from a customization platform like Zazzle.
  • And then the five finalists gave short presentations on their companies and idea — really cool! Just check the videos below to get some ideas.
  • Finally, Dean Richard Lyons of Haas announced the winner!

Five companies have been nominated. Here are their pitches why they should get the 1Mio Zazzle award:

Republic Bike

Everybody loves to ride a bike in the summer. But not everybody loves to ride the same bike. Why not design the bike of your dreams from the convenience of your couch and have it custom-built an shipped to your doorstep? Their pitch: Make bikes as the customers' canvas — and allow then to really create a custom bike.  –> WATCH THE VIDEO

Selve

Why do women own so many shoes? Maybe because every one has something special that they like about it. For everybody with limited storing space, Selve offers the opportunity to pack all these special details into one shoe, your shoe.  Their pitch: We did ten years of homework and now have a great product space and manufactuing — and ready for a huge audience.  –> WATCH THE VIDEO

YouBar

Everybody is different. And every body is different. And if you are a sports enthusiast who wants to give his body exactly the nutrition it needs, YouBar now might have you covered. Their pitch: With YouBars, Zazzle could enter the large growth field of custom food.  –> WATCH THE VIDEO

DODOcase

Do you sometimes wish your fancy iPad, useful as it is, would be a bit more…individual? DODO certainly does and gives you the tools to design your very own, handmade iPad case, that can (but does not have to) look like your favorite book. Their pitch: DODOcase would bring traditional craft to the Zazzle world of mass customization.  –> WATCH THE VIDEO

Designscape

Few things can personalize a home better than individually designed and crafted pieces of art and assessories. With Designescape's concept including production with modern lasercutters, individually produced home decoration could become an affordable reality soon. Their pitch: Bring laser cutting technologies to the Zazzle platform to do many more amazing things.  –> WATCH THE VIDEO

And the winner is …

SelveIt was really difficult to select a winner, but in the end SELVE was selected as the recipient of the Zazzle Innovation Challenge 2012! Congratulations, and I am sure we soon will learn about the outcomes of this cooperation!  (on the left, Selve founder and CEO Claudia Kieserling who joined by video from Germany)

 


 Extra:  Amongst the entries that did not make it into the finals, many presented really interesting, funny, creative and/or useful ideas. Honorable mention can especially be given to …

  • Unitedstyles. A plattform for consumer-designers to design fashion, buy their individual pieces and open virtual stores. (Video)
  • Modify Industries, Inc. High-design co-creation of goods with a high grade of interchangable elements.
  • Spek, personal eyewear. Eyeware, personalized in design, fit and shape, using modern 3D printing technologies (Video)
  • Happy Toy Machine. Enables kids and the young at heart to create their own cool, cute, and crazy custom plush toys online. (Video)
  • Easy DIY Nail (Yuan Lu) Individual fingernail design made easy (Video)
  • Fabric on Demand. Affordable custom fabric printing – bring your pictures and designs on fabric (Video)
  • Waggers Pet Products Inc. Give your pet the best you can with individualized pet food.
9 03, 2012

The Market for Mass Customization: Results from the Customization500. Part II: The State of Choice Navigation Toolkits

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:44+00:00 März 9th, 2012|Books, Cases-Consumer, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, General, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

 (Part 2 in our series with key results from the Customization500 study. Part 1: Some Data on the MC industry structure).

MC 500 cover finalThe Customization500 study (see http://www.mc-500.com) provided us also a very detailed view into the current practice of choice navigation and online configuration. When crunching the numbers, we found a large puzzle:

The reality of toolkits clearly falls behind the broad body of academic research on design parameters of successful toolkits.

You find lots of additional information about the Customization 500 (short: MC500) study in a special section in my blog, www.mc-500.com

 

How did we evaluate customer satisfaction with a configuration toolkit

 

We used more than 40 parameters to evaluate the state and design features of each toolkit in our study (Table 3).

Data presented for each Customization 500 company
Table 3: Data collected for each configuration toolkit profile

 

This objective data was then matched with the performance outcome of the toolkit, i.e. the perception of our trained experts of the configurator.

For this evaluation, we used five criteria to measure the performance of a configuration toolkit in our sample:

(1) visual realism, (2) usability, (3) creativity, (4) enjoyment and (5) uniqueness.

All impressions were measured by our panel of trained expert judges on a 1 to 5 rating scale (1=very low value / 5=very high value).

  • Multiple items: For most of these criteria, we used multiple items to gather the scope of these criteria. Items were grouped and tested with the help of factor and reliability analysis.
  • Inter-rater reliability of these factors was checked with the Intra- Class-Correlation-Coefficient.
  • Performance: Finally, the single factors were combined to one overall performance factor.

In more detail, the five evaluation criteria were constructed as follows:

  • Visual Realism was measured by means of one question “How realistic do you assess the visualization of the configuration process?”
  • To measure usability, the evaluators were asked to rate: "The configurator is (1) intuitively usable, (2) user-friendly as well as (3) clearly and (4) logically structured".
  • The creativity factor consisted of two items: "(1) The website gave me a lot of freedom", and "(2) I could give my creativity free rein while designing the product".
  • To determine enjoyment, the experts had to rate: "The configuration was (1) fun, (2) delight, (3) pleasure, (4) entertaining and (5) interesting".
  • To assess uniqueness following statements had to be evaluated: "My created product (1) is unique, (2) is different, (3) helps me to differentiate; and (4) no one else has such a product."

In addition, we had multiple other scales for performance like the satisfaction with the final product, the willingness to purchase, the likelihood to recommend the vendor to a friend, etc. 

All 500 companies that are included in the Customization500 are presented with a profile picture like the following Figure 4.

Example company profile 2
 Figure 4: Sample profile picture (purchase the full report for all 500 evaluations)

 

Configuration process experience is driving overall customer satisfaction

 

Our analysis showed that on the one hand side, “preference fit” and the meeting of a customer’s “need for uniqueness” are strong drivers of satisfaction with a particular mass customization offering.  

However, process satisfaction, resulting from the enjoyment and creative involvement during a user-friendly configuration process, has an even higher impact in many cases, according to our data.

This confirms the early findings of researchers like Nikolaus Franke or Martin Schreier who have stated that in B2C mass customization about 50 percent of the additional willingness to pay can be explained by the process experience and a feeling of achievement and co-design success – and not by the higher functionality of fit of a custom product.

Our study clearly supports this claim. We urge managers to look beyond the sheer technology and back office integration of configuration toolkits and also focus on delivering a great configuration experience.

 

Meaningful visualization

 

Academic research often has stressed the importance of realistic visualization as a core element of a good toolkit. But many companies in practice still have very simple visualization features, and sometimes no illustration of the outcome at all.  But there also can be too much of a good thing:

Evaluators often highlighted not those sites with the most advanced 3D visualization as best in class, But those with visualization features that matter and come to the point.

For many products, a realistic, fast, plug-in free and well-described visual of an individual configuration is better than a complicated 3D model wearing, for example, my custom T-shirt – that takes many seconds to load and almost crushed my computer when playing with it. Sounds obvious? Well, it is not. We still see many sites where technology is used as a point of differentiation – but not as a source of customer value!

 

Providing help and process navigation

 

When looking at the data which features of a configurator drive most the perceived usability and use experience, we found that navigation- and orientation-help features, such as a progress bar or an activity list, play a key role. Co-design toolkits with a higher level of company- and/or customer-help features, such as design inspirations, deeper product information or recommendations by other consumers, in general performed better in terms of satisfaction.

However, about 50% of the toolkits in the "Customization 500" do not offer any or only a low level of these features. Here, we find many untapped opportunities for practice to enhance the gross utility of customers.

At the other side, we’ve found quite a few offerings without or with only a low level of these features which were performing excellently nonetheless. In some cases, the simple product design (solution space) did not require special help features. In other cases, customer satisfaction with the offerings was excessively influenced by the particular value provided by the customizable product itself.

There is not one best way. Companies should “customize their mass customization strategy” based on the requirements of their customer stock. But having an understanding of the perception of customers or a firm's toolkit is crucial to make such a decision.

 

Parameter versus need based configurations

 

The largest gap between practice and recommendations of academic research can be found in the area of parameter- versus need-based toolkits.  We found that in today's mass customization reality, basic parameter (option) based toolkits still rule. Customers have to make their own decisions from a list of predefined options. This often demands a large number of decisions and also knowledge of the user about the product. While this may be perfect in the business-to-business context, it is not always the best option in consumer markets.

Here, need-based configuration has been shown to provide better results. In such a need-based system, users share something about their preferences, requirements, or expected outcomes. This input then is transferred by an algorithm into a product configuration. A need-based configurator hence mimics the behavior of a good sales person who also may recommend you exactly the right product (configuration) after asking just a few but insightful questions. In our study of the best 500 toolkits, less than 3% of companies had such a need-based configurator in place. While we acknowledge that it is more costly to develop a good need-based configurator, these systems seem to offer a great opportunity for differentiation and larger customer satisfaction.

 

Conclusion

 

MC 500 signConcluding, we can state that mass customization still is an area in the making. While there has been much progress, and there are some really great toolkits in the market, the majority of systems still are in an early stage. But as our data shows, from the customer perspective it often is just a small step between a good to a great toolkit.

All companies that have been included in the Customization500 received this vignette to illustrate that they are part of the leading companies in the field of mass customization and personalization. So when search for customization on the web the next time, watch out for this sign.

But we expect that the Customization500 is a very dynamic field. Even during the time of our research we found many developments, improvements, and failures. This is why studying the field of mass customization remains a continuous endeavor … but a fun one, too!

 

Context information

 

Part 1: of this series:  Data on the MC industry structure

MC 500 cover finalwww.mc-500.com: More information on the Customization500 study and a list of the 500 companies included in the evaluation.

 

Mcpc2011_proceeding_long_coverhttp://bit.ly/mcpc-proceedingsThe Proceedings of the last MCPC conference cover many dozens of case studies, latest research, 2500+ slides, and 15+ hours of video of the plenary presentations. As part of the proceedings, you also find three detailed PPT presentations using the Customization500 data in larger detail.

MC 2012 banner blockwww.mc2012.org: Speaking German? Then participate at the next meeting of the German-speaking mass customization community (Salzburg, 29 June 2012) – and learn from some of the German champions of the Customization500.

 

6 03, 2012

The Market for Mass Customization Today: Results from the Customization500. Part I: Company & Industry Structure

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:47+00:00 März 6th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, General, Personalization, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MC 500 cover finalIn his recent report about mass customization, Forrester's J.P. Gownder concluded that "mass customization is finally the future of products".  But how does the future of products look today?

In a joint project, Dominik Walcher and I looked together with our colleagues Thorsten Harzer, Christoph Ihl and Fabrizio Salvador into the practice of mass customization. Our multi-stage study, "The Customization 500", is the first global benchmarking study on mass customization and personalization in consumer e-commerce.

In a series of postings, I want to introduce some of the results from this research. You find all about the Customization 500 (short: MC500) study in a special section in my blog, www.mc-500.com


Sample construction for the Customization500 benchmark study

 

Given the scope of the mass customization market, we focused our analysis in the Customization500 on companies that sell directly to end consumers (B2C), using an online toolkit for user co-design that is applied to change the physical characteristics of the product in a dedicated manufacturing step (hence excluding products where customization is embedded in the product like a smartphone). In addition, we pragmatically focused on companies which we were able to analyze as they had a website in either English or German language.

In total, we found almost 1000 firms meeting these criteria (refer to www.configurator-database.com, a continuously updated list of mass customization companies). Following an extensive evaluation activity, we identified 500 companies that lead this field from a customer perspective (see here the full list). For each company, we gathered more than 100 data points. Data was collected by a group of trained expert evaluators who spent hours on each website.

  MC 500 Sample construction

 Figure 1: Selecting the data for the Customization 500

Also, each website was at least evaluated independently by three evaluators, and we took care to investigate all cases where the inter-rater reliability was not sufficient. The result of this exercise was a ranking of all companies, and allowed us to identify some of the leading offerings in the field. Figure 2 shows a summary picture of one of the companies included in the study.

  Nike

Figure 2: A typical illustration of the overall score sheet of a company included in the Customization 500 (to get access to  all 500 profiles included in the Customization500, you have to purchase the full market study).

 

Which are the dominating industries with mass customization offerings

 

Table 1 provides an overview of the categories where mass customization in BtoC online today is employed. We find some very crowded categories that dominate the market. As expected, the option to personalize items by applying a user design on a basic product by different forms of digital printing is leading the field (categories 1, 2 and 4). There also always seems to be room for another custom shirt business or personalized sticker / foil to decorate your smart phone. Interestingly, however, there also is a very large (and still growing) field of applications in the food and nutrition industry where mass customization is applied to customize taste and nutrition of food.

  MC 500 Categories Table 1

Table 1: Categories of mass customization application in the Customization500

Using customized products for the gift market is a growing, but still not over-crowded opportunity. Most vendors still see mass customization as a one-to-one business, providing a custom product for the buyer (hence, also the dominance of me, my, mein etc. brand names).

However, some of the most successful mass customizers have realized that mass customization offers a perfect cure of a common problem: „Oh my good,

[Name here]‘s birthday is coming up in a few days — I need to rush to get an „original“ present now – but what?“ Take customized chocolate. Chocri and MyM&Ms, for example, are competing with gift cards and gift books, not with other candy items. They are not to be eaten – even if they taste very good – but to express that I have thought of you and really have spent some effort in getting this present done. For this, I am willing to pay a premium of 1,000 percent or more. As a provider, however, this means that a delivery time of 24 hours is a must, plus advice for easy gifting, wrapping, additional greeting cards etc. Here, we still see many untapped opportunities.

When looking further in the domains of mass customization application, we interestingly only found very few good configuration toolkits (for functional customization) in the field of consumer electronics and computers. Here, apparently the improvements of hardware apparently make it less useful to customize a product via toolkits before purchase, but allow users to customize the product during the usage stage with an embedded toolkit. It may be a sign of the shift in mass customization that the early pioneer, Dell, today almost offers no customization at all at its website. Well, there still is a configurator, but the choice options are very limited.

 

A closer look into company structures

 

For 120 of the 500 companies, we also could obtain extensive data by means of a company survey. Figure 3 shows our two-step data gathering approach.

MC 500 Expert and company survey

Figure 3: The expert evaluation of the Customization 500 was followed by an extensive company survey of 120 companies

Descriptive statistics for the responding firms are given in Table 2, providing an enhanced insight into the company structures of the players in the mass customization market today.

  • About 83% of the firms were founded exclusively with the purpose of mass customization, while 17% run their mass customization business in addition to their standard business. In general, most firms are rather young.
  • Only 16% of the mass customization offerings are older than five years, indicating the long time lag from the description of the idea to the broader application of toolkits for co-design.
  • 54% of the firms have less than five employees.
  • Annual sales of the responding firms range from less than $100,000 to over $5 million in the last fiscal year, with the majority having sales of less than $1 million (83.5%).

These observations are consistent with our observation that the current dynamism in mass customization is driven primarily by innovative startups that have built their business models from the ground up and focus entirely on the promises of mass customization.

Table 2 Descriptive Data of Company Survey

Table 2: Descriptive data from the company survey of responding firms

Clones dominate mass customization entrepreneurship

If you have a good idea for a custom product, it will be copied fast. This is one of the major conclusions we can draw from our observations of the market. The barrier to entry for many products is rather low, and once an interesting idea comes on the market, copycats follow quickly. This in general has not to be a bad thing, as also clones help to build the market, generate attention, and signal to press that this is a new category.

However, for the pioneers this means that they have to focus as much attention on branding and differentiating their business as upon building the processes and systems. Patents or other forms of IP do not provide much help here, thus, we conclude: As a pioneer, be fast, smart, and differentiate your business beyond the brand name and your core products.

Despite the many "me-too" offerings, surprisingly often the late followers are doing very well in their segments. We see three reasons here:

(1) Strong growth opportunities in every market: The late comers even in the most crowded categories (like custom men's shirts) enter into a market that still is not matured at all. Overall, there is not one category in consumer B2C where custom products have more than a few percent of the overall category (in most cases, they have a few tenth of a percent!). So there is still enough space for everyone.

(2) Market education: Pioneers in a category often have to spend a lot of attention to educate the market and just let consumers (and journalists) know that this kind of custom product is available. Latecomers can build on this generated market education.

(3) "Best of Breed" solutions: Latecomers often perform as best of class of established players, combining the design elements of pioneers, but also of mass customization sites in other categories.  A recent good example if getwear.com, which came late with another custom jeans offering, but has the best online configurator in its industry.

Mass customization platforms make the third wave of mass customization

But despite many clones, we also found a lot of innovative business models. Some of the best performing companies in the Customization500 are not stand-alone businesses that deal directly with consumers, but are mass customization platforms. These platforms can be regarded as the third stage of mass customization development.

The first wave of mass customization was driven by the early pioneers in the field in the early 1990s, motivated by the opportunities of new flexible manufacturing technology. Levi Strauss is a typical example from this time. Most of these offerings worked offline in a traditional retail environment. Also, first internet offerings coming of in 1995 and 1996, like CyberChocy or Creo Interactive, came up at this time. But in most markets, consumers were not ready yet.

The second wave came with the internet economy, around 1998-2002. Often, startups at that time just opened, as everybody could do it, not as customers needed it. But some great examples of mass customization survived, like NikeID (opening only because former Nike CEO Phil Knight wanted to have „something in the internet“, and so they selected mass customization as this promised to cause little channel conflicts with established retailers). In the following years, the internet-based mass customization offerings matured, and many more followed. It was the broader development of online configurators that made mass customization happening in a larger scale.

But a third wave of mass customization is happening now: It is driven by companies like Ponoko, Zazzle, Spreadshirt, Cafepress, Lulu, Gemvara, and many others, which offer design, manufacturing, and retail capacity to everyone. These platforms allow entrepreneurs to open a dedicated mass customization business at very low investment cost. On these platforms, people are not just customizing to fulfill their own needs, but to create (micro) niche markets for their peers. The platform providers have successfully combined the eBay idea of very easily selling things over the internet with the customization model of robust fulfillment processes. Here, we are just at the beginning and will see many more applications soon.

In an upcoming posting, we look more closer into the state of the practice of choice navigation (configuration) toolkits.


Context information

 

MC 500 cover finalwww.mc-500.com: More information on the Customization500 study and a list of the 500 companies included in the evaluation. 

 

Mcpc2011_proceeding_long_coverhttp://bit.ly/mcpc-proceedingsThe Proceedings of the last MCPC conference cover many dozens of case studies, latest research, 2500+ slides, and 15+ hours of video of the plenary presentations. As part of the proceedings, you also find three detailed PPT presentations using the Customization500 data in larger detail.

MC 2012 banner blockwww.mc2012.org: Speaking German? Then participate at the next meeting of the German-speaking mass customization community (Salzburg, 29 June 2012) – and learn from some of the German champions of the Customization500 

29 02, 2012

Featured Research: The Value of Crowdsourcing: Can Users Really Compete with Professionals in Generating New Product Ideas?

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:50+00:00 Februar 29th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Featured Research, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies|

Today I am happy to present you another paper in our series of recommendable reads:  A study by two fellow researchers on the question whether or not crowdsourcing is „worth it“. Also, thank you all for the great feedback on this new series! I will continue to introduce new papers over the next weeks. 
 

JPIMThe Value of Crowdsourcing: Can Users Really Compete with Professionals in Generating New Product Ideas?
By Marion K. Poetz and Martin Schreier
 

Published in: Journal of Product Innovation Management,  Vol. 29 Issue 2 (March 2012)
Download working paper version at SSRN.com or Bocconi University 

Generating ideas for new products used to be the exclusive domain of marketers, engineers, and/or designers. Users have only recently been recognized as an alternative source of product ideas.Whereas some have attributed great potential to outsourcing idea generation to the “crowd” of users (“crowdsourcing”), others have been more skeptical.

Our colleagues Marion K. Poetz from Copenhagen Business School and Martin Schreier from Bocconi University join this debate by presenting the first real- world comparison of ideas actually generated by a firm’s professionals with those generated by users in the course of an idea generation contest.

MAM baby productsFor their research, the two scholars coopersated with the MAM Group, a leading company in the baby products. MAM is based in Austria and sells more than 40 million baby products sold each year, being the market leader in many countries, It especially has positioned itself as the firm that is highly capable of designing leading-edge baby products (as demonstrated by several international design prizes).

In their study, Martin and Marion first faciliated a company-internal idea generation process (i.e., ideas generated by professionals) that led to a total of 51 ideas.

Users and customers, in contrast, were invited to submit their new product ideas via an online ideation contest. The incentives for participation were a cash prize of €500 for the winning idea and 50 noncash prizes to be raffled off among participants. Overall, 70 users participated in this idea generation contest.

Executives from the company then evaluated all ideas (blind to their source) in terms of key quality dimensions, including novelty, customer benefit, and feasibility. The following picture has the core results:

Peotz_Schreier_2012_Table_1_JPIM_3-2012-p252

 

As the table shows, Marion and Martin find that on average user ideas score higher in novelty and customer benefit, but lower in feasibility. Even more interestingly, they find that user ideas are placed more frequently than expected among the very best in terms of novelty and customer benefit.

My comments to this paper:

First, this finding is even more striking as the researchers did not use a state of the art ideation contest and invested much into external recruitment of ideas.It really shows the value of looking out of the box and engaging for your firm’s periphery.

However, this does not mean that a company’s internal R&D people are dump and we all sjopuld better get rid of them. No! For most ideas and innovation, I strongly believe that the internal innovation function still provides the more valuable, as feasible, input of ideas. Consumers only can take a very limited number of highly novel ideas and products.

But in the few times where a company really needs radical innovation, engaging with external users may be more beneficial.

But these external users are often not the customers of the firm (here I find the paper a bit misleading). It are not „average“ customers of a firm that come up with the really good ideas, but industry experts, young designers, lead users, and other „non-representative“ people that take the opportunity of an ideation contest to pitch their idea to a potential manufacturer.  And these contributors will not work for Euro500 price money in the mid term!

 

14 02, 2012

Getwear: New custom jeans website combines many „best practice“ elements of online co-design toolkits

By | 2018-06-14T07:14:03+00:00 Februar 14th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Clothing, Co-Design Process, Technologies & Enablers|

Getwear toolkitCustom jeans have been one of the pioneering offering in mass customization, and I have reported about them several times. Indeed, it has been the Custom Jeans offering of Levi Strauss that got me interested in mass customization at the first place (Seeing it in 1994 in NYC), and so I was quite sad when Levi closed its MC business.

But the market seems to get more mature now, and while there already are quite some companies on the web, there always is room for someone new, especially if they get it better than the rest.

This seems to be the case with GETWEAR.com, a custom jeans site targeting the US market (but they ship to Europe and Asia, too). They just launched last week. While I still cannot judge the product quality, the website seems to be very carefully designed and somehow a "best of breed" of best practices for a good co-design toolkit. And their price point (starting at about $99) is truly MASS customization.

CEO of Getwear is Tatyana Kanzaveli, a well connected woman in the Silicon Valley, but the strategist and concept developer behind the site is Yaakov Karda, who came up with the idea after his studies in Fashion Management in Italy.

I asked him what how is Getwear different to the existing custom jeans companies out there.

YakovYaakov: The main difference is that other projects are (and, as far as I know) about "custom fit" and Getwear is about "custom design". Besides that, none of them is social. It was you (customer) and the company. Basically, it is an analogue of web based "atelier". There's not much fun in buying atelier made clothing for young people; the concept looks and sounds outdated.

Getwear is all about social commerce. From my point of view, mass customization has perfect potential if coupled with community but will not succeed on the large scale if it is not. All other "custom jeans" businesses mostly target people with special requirements (and though an established need for a custom product). It's a very limited market (and with harsh competition).

Unlike them, Getwear targets regular people and most of our clients never (probably) thought of having their jeans custom made. We aim to establish a brand that will compete not with other existing custom jeans projects, but with "big" denim brands such as Diesel, G-Star e.t.c.

Well, this is a bold statement, but there website really is state-of-the art (definitely a best practice candidate for our Customization500 list). The site is very well planned, and really combines many elements both with regard to co-design of an individual item and with regard to sharing and community features.

The co-design tool was developed in collaboration with Artem Gorbunov's Design Bureau, a highly regarded Moscow based studio that specializes in web & interface design. According to Yaakov, they already had two iterations but they are not yet done, so it's a work in progress.

Here are some elements that I liked especially from their site:

  • Great inspiration and catalog to give you orientation and ideas.
  • Senseful visualization balancing between usability and realistic views.
  • Different models and sizes already in the co-design toolkit, not just in the measurement part.
  • Great details. Look at the selection of buttons: Options are shown before selected color, nit just generically.
  • Lot's of social media connections right out of the configurator
  • Option to offer your design to others, earning a $10 bonus every time it is ordered. One of the few sites that put this kind of P2P interaction into practice .

But a great custom product is only as good as the firm's ability to turn the virtual design into a real product. So I asked Yaakov to share a bit more about their production system. Production is in India in a dedicated factory, rum by Nikhil Bafna, who was Yaakov's classmate in Italy and is the VP of Production. They promise delivery times of not more than two weeks (in the US) for a truly custom made jeans, which really sets a strong benchmark!

Yaakov: First of all, we employ unique parametric pattern making system that produces ready for cutting patterns in a matter of seconds. That saves a lot of time. Besides that we have a specially dedicated production unit that doesn't do any other work. Jeans are delivered with UPS and it only adds around 3 days for delivery (within these 14). 

We aim to further reduce delivery timing to one week (or less for basic items) in future. I believe that fast fulfillment is one of the key success factors for any mass customization business.

I totally agree on the last sentence. Looking forward to observe the future developments of this company!

18 12, 2011

The $1 Million Zazzle Innovation Challenge: What is your great idea for the next in mass customization?

By | 2018-06-14T07:14:54+00:00 Dezember 18th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, Long Tail, MC & Art, MCPC2011, MIT SCG, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

Here is your perfect thing to do over the Christmas holidays:

Zazzle

Zazzle, a leading platform for quality custom products, is hosting their first "One Million-Dollar Innovation Challenge" to launch the development of the next, most innovative customization product or company.

This can be an idea for a new consumer product, but also one for an innovative service, health, business to business or whatever offering … Feel free to bring mass customization to a new level!

The contest had been announced during the MCPC 2011 conference dinner. It is hosted in association with MIT's Smart Customization Group and UC Berkeley's Center for Corporate Innovation,

The Million-Dollar Innovation Challenge and prize is open to any person or company with an idea for a customizable product. Applicants must create a one-minute video, describing their product and explaining why their innovative concept is special and will contribute to the growing movement of mass customization. Applicants will be judged on innovation and economic viability.

Jeff Beaver from Zazzle announces the Challenge. Photo by Bruce CookThe winner will gain access to Zazzle's world-class engineering team, which will support the winning project with software development, exclusive proprietary design tools and 3-D product visualization technologies. Additionally, Zazzle will fund the project with resources to develop a global product-marketing plan and launch the product to a worldwide audience of tens of millions of potential consumers. The winner will also receive mentorship from a veteran panel of potential investors and industry leaders, in addition to introductions to Zazzle's many brands and partners.

Zazzle will announce five semi-finalists on February 24, 2012. Academic experts, industry executives and active investors will help refine the concepts and plans for final evaluation and judge the presentations.

For more information, including objectives, application, rules and prize details, visit www.Zazzle.com/challenge.

7 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Business Seminar: The Future of Mass Customization: The New Open Manufacturing System at #Materialise, #Ponoko and #ILT

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:26+00:00 November 7th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Design, Events, MC/OI on the Web, MCPC2011, Offline Customization, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Research Studies, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011
On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

Additive Manufacturing and the opportunity for every consumer to turn any idea into a tangible product will change not just mass customization, but our dominant perspective of design and manufacturing. Learn the key facts from visionaries and business leaders in this field.

Wim Michiels, Executive Vice President, Materialise
The Industrial Revolution 2.0: Personalization through Additive Manufacturing

MichielsEvery year, consumers’ interest in customization increases and market demand for personalization is creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs as well as entrepreneurs who have an existing offering that they now wish to tailor. With the technological advancements in Additive Manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3D Printing, individuals have the ability to add a personal touch to the things they use and love most from cell phone cases, to shoes, to accessories for their cars and more.


David ten Have, CEO, Ponoko
Building the World's Easiest Making System

Ten_haveThe future of products – using software to connect consumers, designers and making devices. Ponoko Inc is the creator of Personal Factory — the world’s most advanced platform for the mass creation of custom goods. Creative consumers can turn their design ideas into custom goods on demand using Ponoko's global network of making devices. This local production reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing. So far, more than 100,000 customer designed products have been made in 15 locations throughout the USA, Europe and Australasia – everything from 3D printed jewelry to laser-cut clocks to CNC routed furniture. Just as the Internet revolutionized the exchange of digital photos, music and movies, Ponoko pioneered the exchange of digital designs, reinventing the way consumer goods are designed, made and distributed. In a future when there is a making device in every home, school and business, Personal Factory is the software that makes it easy for everyone to create custom goods.

 Reinhard Poprawe, Director of Fraunhofer ILT, RWTH Aachen University
Laser Additive Manufacturing – The Key to the Next Generation of Economic Custom Production

Poprawe

 

 

 

 


Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.

6 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Business Seminar: How to Implement an MC Business at #Fluid, #JELD-WEN and #cyLEDGE

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:30+00:00 November 6th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011
On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

Three rapid panel presentations will provide a lot of inspiration and food for thought for small group discussions with your peers.

Andrew Guldman, VP of Engineering, Fluid
Rob Jellesed, Director of Internet Sales, JELD-WEN Windows

Implementing Mass Customization in an Established Company

Guldman_jellesedFluid Inc. and JELD-WEN Doors & Windows have collaborated to create a compelling and richly interactive window and door customization experience online utilizing the latest in mass customization technology. During this presentation, you’ll hear how JELD-WEN leverages technologies to inform consumer purchase decisions and provide pass through lead generation to the sales funnel. With the use of immersive customization capabilities, potential customers can now interact with photo-realistic products, zoom, multiple views, and color changes. Further, you will learn how mass customization has gone social, with JELD-WEN’s unique implementation of social shopping tools that allow consumers to customize complex products with friends online and share their designs with others. And, last you’ll understand how mass customization has proven to augment JELD-WEN’s in-store door and window displays and offered the company a non-traditional return on investment.

Paul Blazek, CEO, cyLEDGE
Crucial Design Elements for Successful MC Configuration and Interaction

BlazekSuccessful mass customization of products and services requires interaction interfaces and tools that are shaped according to the customers' heterogeneous needs. The interface design of these configuration systems becomes a decisive criterion for customer satisfaction. Besides offering a good approach to the specific customization possibilities it should help to reduce customer doubts encountered during the design process, support emotional mechanisms and persuade to make a purchase. But how are relevant customer requirements identified? What are crucial design elements that trigger an efficient interaction between the customer and the manufacturer. Paul will answer these questions in form of some guidelines resulting from his analysis of customer structures and configurator approaches in various industries.

Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.

5 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Business Seminar: Setting Up a Mass Customization System at #Skyou, #Bene AG and #Selve

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:32+00:00 November 5th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Clothing, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Design, Events, Footwear, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011 On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

This session will focus on the different business models that are behind the mass customization trend.

Brennan Mulligan, Founder & CEO, Skyou
What I Learned from Setting Up Five Successful MC Companies

MulliganWhile mass customization can be seen as an established business model we still see often little scale in its execution. At the same time, many new ventures and established businesses alike face the challenge to establish a supply chain fitted for mass customization – and everyone seems to go through the same learning cycle again. In his talk, Brennan Mulligan will propose a solution, reflecting on his experiences in leading many successful mass customization businesses since 1993.

Karl Berger, Vice President Engineering, Bene AG
Developing Solution Spaces for Mass Customization

BergerSolution Space Development is one of the core activities of a successful mass customizer, clearly defining what it is going to offer and what it is not. The presentation will explain how Bene, a leading European office furniture provider, has developed a special approach to understand and serve the idiosyncratic needs of its customers, to develop the solution space. Karl Berger will show how different constraints work with each other, and how a of organizational layers helps to execute different solution spaces in the organization.

Claudia Kisserling, CEO, Selve
Illissa Howard, Founder, Milk and Honey Shoes

Establishing a Mass Customization Factory in China

Kieserling_howardThis joint presentation is delivered by two experienced entrepreneurs in mass customization footwear, representing selve, the Germany-based category leader in the field, and Milk&Honey, a recent Hong Kong based startup. Claudia and Ilissa will first share insights into the market for customization in this field, discussing the Women’s fashion footwear market size and growth areas, global reach via online configurator, and the challenges and opportunities associated with that. Then, Claudia will share here experiences in setting up an own manufacturing plant in china, after seven years of manufacturing of high quality custom women's shoes in Italy. She will discuss the pros and cons, the do's and don'ts and her experiences of setting up and running a custom shoe factory in China.

Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.

3 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Business Seminar: Building & Growing a Mass Customization Business at #Rickshaw Bagworks and #You Bar

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:36+00:00 November 3rd, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Clothing, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011 On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

In this panel, three experienced entrepreneurs in mass customization will share their best practices on what did work and what not.

Mark Dwight, Founder & CEO, Rickshaw Bagworks
Design for Mass Customization: Real World Approaches for Design and Manufacturing

DwightMass customization comes in many shapes and sizes. Mark Dwight employs mass customization techniques in his small messenger bag manufacturing company, Rickshaw Bagworks, based in San Francisco. Dwight founded Rickshaw specifically to pursue a strict build-to-order operational model, as opposed to the traditional build-to-stock practice common in the fashion industry. At Rickshaw, mass customization is the foundation of the product design and development process. All product platforms are based upon four key design principles: (1) Decouple function and fashion; (2) Isolate complex core functional elements in a common, mass-producible "chassis"; (3) Save product "personality" for the final assembly step; (4) Add optional functional upgrades and fashion elements from a collection of "bolt-on" accessories. Based upon this design methodology, Rickshaw produces a family of full-featured, customizable computer carrying briefcases and backpacks at very competitive prices in its San Francisco headquarters. The benefits of this strategy include: zero finished goods inventory, zero inventory risk, minimum SKU count, vastly reduced forecasting complexity, ability to outsource most of the labor intensive work while insourcing all of the customization, price/performance flexibility, and fast turnaround of highly custom orders.

Anthony Flynn, Founder & CEO, You Bar
You Bars: Profiting from the Mega-Trend of Food Customization

FlynnDetailing You Bar's journey from my mother's kitchen to an 8,200 square foot commercial warehouse, this presentation focuses on how the customer and company have become less polarized. Customization obliges the customer to become co-creator and innovator, necessitating a dialogue between customer and company which allows each to better satisfy the evolving needs of the other.


Speaker T.B.A., Please Check Conference Website for Details

Investing in the Customization Trend

Mass customization start-ups have become subject to some major interest of Venture Capital firms. In this presentation, a member of the VC communities share some insights on the market for mass customization from this perspective and why mass customization and co-creation are important drivers of successful future business models.

Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.

2 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Keynote Session: Finding the Next Opportunities in Mass Customization

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:42+00:00 November 2nd, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MCPC2011, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011 On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

Learn from B. Joseph Pine's latest thoughts on the Virtual Multiverse and how it creates the next generation of experiences and customization, followed by a talk by an entrepreneur who puts Joe's thoughts into real life.

B. Joseph Pine II, Strategic Horizons
The Multiverse: Finding the Next Opportunities in Mass Customization

PineThe physical world, bounded as it is by matter, space, and time, offers limited opportunities for value creation. With digital technology, however, the opportunities are limitless, for people can create anything they want with immaterial bits, in virtual places, without the constraints of linear time. As consumers increasingly experience the world through their digital gadgets, companies still only scratch the surface of technology-infused experiences. Joseph Pine will show you how to create new value for your customers with personalized offerings that fuse the real and the virtual. Digital technology offers limitless opportunities — you really can create anything you want — but real-world experiences have a richness that virtual ones do not. So how can you use the best of both? How do you make sense of such infinite possibility? What kinds of experiences can you create? Which ones should you offer?

André Wolper, Founder & CEO, embodee
Visualization as an Enabler of Mass Customization: An Apparel Story

WolperApparel shoppers, especially those customizing a garment, expect to vividly and accurately “see” and even experience what a garment looks like on them. Accurate, lifelike, 360degree visualizations can provide the means, delivering inspiration and confidence for an online purchase. embodee, a start-up, adapting technologies from movie visual effects, has built the first scalable, easy-to-use platform that delivers such visualization capabilities. Two leading global brands have launched interactive systems built on the embodee platform. Hurley customers have been able to see themselves in a range of denim styles and sizes optimized for them since 2010. And now, the world's leading sports apparel and equipment brand enables athletes and coaches to see their team uniforms evolve in compellingly realistic 3D as they tweak style elements, text, fonts, stitch patterns and colors. Customer feedback, sales volumes and a steep drop in return rates are proof points that compelling visualization can propel customization and online apparel commerce forward.

Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.

1 11, 2011

#MCPC2011 Keynote Session: What is the State of the Art of Research & Practice in Mass Customization & Open Innovation?

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:45+00:00 November 1st, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011 On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

Two talks providing a review of these fields to create a common understanding of the latest research and insights for practice. 

Joel West, Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences
Open Innovation – State of the Art of Research and Practice

West

 

 

 

 

 


Frank T. Piller, RWTH Aachen & MIT Smart Customization Group
Fabrizio Salvador, IE Business School

A Matter of Balance – Building the Successful Mass Customization Enterprise

Piller_salvadorWhat makes a successful mass customization enterprise? Previous research has identified three core capabilities that allow companies to profit from mass customization: robust process design, choice navigation and solution space definition. So far, however, we did not have large-sample evidence of the impact of these capabilities on market, operational and financial performance of a company. This presentation will report the latest results of an international study of 130 mass customization consumer companies operating both in Europe and in the U.S. as part of the ongoing MC500 research initiative. We find that these capabilities indeed are important for the performance of the sampled companies. To our surprise, however, focusing on one capability alone does not necessarily lead to superior market, operational and financial performance. Instead, performance differentials are explained in terms of the simultaneous presence of the three capabilities. This means that managers building a mass customization venture have to get a balanced view of investing in the three capabilities. Using empirical data and case studies, our presentation will identify implications of our study for entrepreneurs, managers in established companies, investors and VCs, and for future research.

Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.

30 10, 2011

#MCPC2011 Business Seminar: Profiting from open Innovation and Co-Creation at #Nine Sigma

By | 2018-06-14T07:15:51+00:00 Oktober 30th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Events, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Personalization, Service Customization, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011
On November 16th, the MCPC 2011 conference kicks off at the Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco. In this series of postings, we introduce our speakers at the business seminars of the conference.

A final opportunity to discuss with your peers how to put the ideas from this day into practice, kicked-off by a presentation of a key enabler of open innovation.

Andy Zynga, CEO, Nine Sigma
Making Open Innovation Work 

ZyngaIn his presentation, Andy Zynga will share his experiences from more than 2000 projects in open innovation at Nine Sigma. He will comment on the obstacles, tools & opportunities of open innovation, presenting recent results from a comprehensive survey on open innovation practices in global firms. He will then discuss some of the measures executives can take to tackle the challenges of profiting from open innovation. His presentation will close with a few observations to stimulate the discussion at the following round table presentation with your peers.

Followed by a round table discussion.

Please find the complete program at the official MCPC 2011 website.