20 06, 2012

Market Watch: mi adidas Team: Adidas Launches Customization Portal for Sports Teams, Lets You Fly Your Colors

By | 2018-06-14T06:55:54+00:00 Juni 20th, 2012|Cases-Consumer, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, Footwear, MC/OI on the Web, Personalization, Sneaker, T-Shirts|

Copyright adidas, www.adidas.com, all rights reserved.Adidas, major sports gear manufacturer from Herzogenaurach, Germany, is likely known to everybody around the globe.

Since 2000, adidas has been engaging in the market for customized sportswear. Their mi adidas program offers convenient online configuration of your favorite clothing and adds some extra motivation to your sporting efforts. It has been one of my favorite case studies and examples of mass customization in my presentations.

After 12 years of successful mass customization targeting individual athletes, adidas now took the next logical step, enabling not only the individual but also the entire team to design their own individual yet affordable uniforms. Mi adidas Team is the latest addition to the mi-family of adidas customization platforms. And from a business perspective, this may be the trigger to finally scale up MC at adidas.

Copyright adidas, www.adidas.com, all rights reserved!

Configuration process on PC. Click to enlarge!

Amateurs and professionals, youth and adults alike, from schools, universities, leagues and clubs can style a wide variety of footwear, apparel and accessoires. The team's crest, sponsor logo, player number or team name can be applied on the items which are also customizable by picking from 15 base colors.

Sportswear you look and feel great in is one factor adding to your (perceived) victory chances, fan support is another. Well aware of the importance of your supporters, adidas also offers the option to customize a number of off court items for fans, coaches etc.

In the spirit of good sportsmanship, adidas extends the idea of teamwork from the field to the computer: When you have created a design you are happy with, the configurator lets you share your concept with your teammates, management and sponsors via facebook, twitter, email or blog integration.

Once the final look has been decided upon, adidas will ship your order to a dedicated adidas specialist retailer within 45 days.

Mi adidas Team is currently availible for eleven sports categories (running track and field, running cross country, rugby, baseball, football, basketball, handball, volleyball, American football, TECHFIT® training and select Olympic sports) on 16 markets (USA, UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

For those who prefer old fashioned personal collaboration over online social media, mi Team has designed the platform with the use on mobile platforms in mind. It looks especially great on tablet PCs and allows you to design your new major league uniform right on your advancement party.

Copyright adidas, respecitve owners, www.adidas.com, all rights reserved!

Configurator demostration on a tablet PC. Click to enlarge!

It will be interesting to observe how this rather large addition to adidas' customization portfolio will develop and which impact it will have on the market of (semi-)professional team sports goods. More about mi adidas Team on the official website.

Concluding, these are the following three features that make the new mi adidas team customization site really interesting for me:

  • Moving from 1:1 customization to communities of users!  This is still one of the first team customization sites.
  • Building a multi-layered site that takes care of multiple stakeholders – players, equipment managers, coaches, moms, fans, retailers … this is one of the best configuration systems in this regard I have ever seen!  While the online cofiguration toolkit is "just" common good practice, I would say, this multi-stakeholder capability of mi adidas team is terrific!
  • Re-integrating the (independent) retailer back into the MC system. For a long time, MC moved direct, and away from retailers. With mi adidas team, the site also provides great opportunities for individual retailers to customize a sales pitch for a local team, based on a local set of garments.  By making independent retailers part of the system, Adidas may utilize these retailers as "brand ambassodrs" for customization.
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. 



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

20 02, 2012

Featured Research: The Paradox of Tie Strength in Customer Relationships for Innovation: A Longitudinal Case Study in the Sports Industry

By | 2018-06-14T07:13:55+00:00 Februar 20th, 2012|Co-creation, Featured Research, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies, Sneaker|

I am happy to announce the publication of a new paper on a topic that is strongly underlying this blog: The relationship between firms and customers for innovation and value creation.This post shall be the start of a series of posts on our own papers and papers from others in the area. In an act of shameless self promotion, I start with one of our own papers.

Piller:fredbergThe Paradox of Tie Strength in Customer Relationship for Innovation: A Longitudinal Case Study in the Sports Industry, by Tobias Fredberg & Frank T. Piller 

Published in: R&D Management, Vol. 41, Issue 5 (Dec 2011)
Download working paper version at SSRN.com

Current literature argues that firms should have strong ties to customers to benefit from increased customer retention and loyalty. Strong ties, however, have also been shown to prevent innovation, suggesting that firms should also develop weak ties to other customer groups.

Our paper tries to explain this paradox. We look in situations where strong ties facilitate, rather than prohibit, innovation.Picflow Kopie Our paper is based in a seven-year longitudinal research project with a global sporting goods company.

From the case we find that the paradox of tie strength results from an overly simplified view of the nature of company-customer relationships.

Contrary to the established literature, we find that strong ties in the case supported significant innovation. In fact, the involvement resulted in the development of a new product with a radically different product architecture and led to one of the most successful product launches in the company’s history.

To explain these findings, we introduce the nature of customer participation in a firm’s value creation processes as a new dimension of the constitution of firm-customer ties and discuss how such a kind of relationship can develop (see Figure).

In addition to the known continuum of strong and weak ties, firms have to look on the nature of ties which results from different modes of interacting with customers: Firms can either select rather passive modes, where customers just response to an activity of a firm, or much more interactive relationships, where customers actively contribute and participate. We find that the latter kind of relationships can be created by a firm, and that here radical innovation despite (or better: due to) strong ties can be possible.

Context information:

Benedict Dellaert and colleagues recently had a great paper on a similar topic, see "Corine S. Noordhoff, Kyriakis Kyriakopoulos, Christine Moorman, Piet Pauwels and Benedict G.C. Dellaert (2011), “The Bright-Side and Dark-Side of Embedded Ties in Business-to-Business Innovation,” Journal of Marketing, forthcoming (pdf download here)."

Interested in more recent / upcoming research papers? Then look here for a list:

SSRNRecent Working Papers / Work in Progress by Frank Piller: Download of recent working papers at SSRN

19 09, 2011

#MCPC2011 Program Highlights – Mass Customization and Open Innovation in the Fashion Industries

By | 2018-06-14T07:16:59+00:00 September 19th, 2011|Cases-Consumer, Clothing, Co-Design Process, Design, Events, Footwear, MCPC2011, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies, Sneaker, T-Shirts, Technologies & Enablers|

MCPC 2011In a series of postings, we present some of the program highligths of the MCPC 2011 conference. The following is just one of more than 50 sessions we will host on Nov 16-19 in San Francisco, CA.

Since the beginning of the MCPC conference series, clothing and footwear products have been has discussed extensily during this event. Also, just by looking onto the numbers, these industries are leading the mass customization movement. At the same time, some of the early pioneers in Crowdsourcing, Threadless, also focused on this industry.

A dedicated track at the MCPC2011 will provide a closer look on this topic.

Sessions 5.2 and 6.2 (Nov 19): A Special Focus on the Fashion Industries

Why Customization of Footwear is Not Fit for Masses

Market facts prove that, despite a certain number of valorous entrepreneurs are there to exploit the advantages of the new business model, the benefits of personalization of products have not yet reached the shoe wearing masses. Sergio Dulio will present the example of a new Italian brand in the field of luxury bespoke men shoes and the presentation of its technical and market expansion plans, it will be discussed why customization and masses, at least in the field of footwear, don’t’ seem to go together as expected and a theory will be formulated to support the idea that, possibly, this is the right approach to a consumer centric shoe world.

Customization in Apparel Design

Advanced customization and 3D visualization are in the core of the latest planned solutions to enhance customer's shopping experience and brand loyalty, and with the help of advanced GPUs the industry is a step closer in creating a better, more precise design and shopping environment. Yoram Burg (Optitex) will present and discuss the latest projects his company is involved in that include deploying the 3D customized solutions in the worlds of movies, home sewing, apparel design, animation and art work, and give a preview on the next level of solutions currently in development by OptiTex.

ErtlRenz Sport Shoes World – Adapted to Improve the Customer's Performance

While many professional athletes are outfitted over long periods of time by their sponsoring sports brand through the same service people, the “normal” customer typically buys his standardized equipment by individual picks from different stores. Dirk Rutschmann (Corpus-e), Sven Renz and Wolfgang Richter (ErtlRenz) will report from the ErtlRenz Sport Shoes World and present how they embrace the customer over his personal sports career providing him individual sport shoes for maximum performance and comfort like a pro.

E-Co-Creation for Fashion

The Web 2.0 revolution is changing perceptions and influencing a younger generation, but can co-creation challenge traditional design methods for fashion and promote sustainability, and can designing together enable the democratization of fashion? Jen Ballie, Philip Delamore (London College of Fashion) will present a mapping of co-creation within a fashion context, using participatory practice methods. A series of case studies will be used to define co-creation communities, the role of the individual and the sustainable benefits of working together. The viewpoint of both the designer and consumer will be used to illustrate their role and relationship, and to define methods and toolkits for how they can work together.

CoReNET – Value Co-Creation of Small Series Customized Healthy, Fashionable Clothing, Footwear and Assessories

In this presentation, Dieter Stellmach (DITF Denkendorf) will give an insight into CoReNET – Customer-ORiented and Eco-friendly NETworks for healthy fashionable goods: A toolset and first practical experiences for value co-creation of small series customised healthy fashionable clothing, footwear and accessories.

The Fitting of Pants

When fitting pants, a garment can have the correct horizontal and vertical dimensions, but not fit properly. This is a particular problem at the crotch, where there is a saddle point on the abstracted 3D form of the body, where the front and back of the body are joined in the crotch area and one leg transitions through the crotch area to the other. Bonny Carmicino has determined that these fit problems are the result of patterns that do not properly fit the crotch curve and are not properly balanced and will present new methods of creating the proper crotch curve and balancing pants, both of which produce excellent results on subjects of all shapes (including “normal” and also atypically- and asymmetrically-shaped subjects).

Configurator for Apparel Manufactoring within the Mass Customization Program

Companies need to acquire and manage a knowledge base of consumers’ needs and preferences in order to meet, even surpass, customer's expectations. In the fashion & clothing industry, mass customization is not generally well understood or implemented due to difficulties related to measurements, pattern adaptation, and inflexible manufacturing processes. Jocelyn Bellemare (Université du Québec à Montréal), Serge Carrier and Pierre Baptiste (Montreal University) will present their identification of the fundamental variables and data necessary to produce custom-made clothing, the development of a configurator based on such data, and how to enable the efficient transmission of configurator generated information to computerized production systems.

— And these are just some of the talks on this industry!! check the full program for more!!

Listen to the full content of these talks at the MCPC 2011, Marriot SFO Airport, San Francisco, Nov 16-19, 2011:

– Conference Website and Registration (reducted rates until Sept 30)

– All info here in one compact MCPC flyer

Conference hotel and travel (rooms fill quickly, book now!)

– All posts about the conference in my blog

20 04, 2009

„Niching the niche“: Observations from my visit at Zazzle’s Silicon Valley HQs

By | 2018-06-14T11:09:42+00:00 April 20th, 2009|Cases-Consumer, Clothing, Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Design, Personalization, Sneaker, T-Shirts|

Zazzle-logo How Zazzle is still growing with mass customization despite — or just because of — the economic downturn … and ten other facts that make this platform special

I recently had the opportunity to pay Zazzle an extended visit at their Silicon Valley Headquarters. Here is what I learned during this day:

Zazzle was founded by Bobby and Jeff Beaver as students at Stanford University. The unfulfilled need of a user again was the mother of invention: The two brothers wanted to create a cool t-shirt to advertise a party at their fraternity (in order to "draw in plenty of nice girls"). They realized how difficult it was at that time to get high-quality custom t-shirts without having to order larger quantities at a promotions company or to rely on the low quality of heat-transfer at the local copy store. Well, it didn't work out with the girls at that party, but the rest is history:

Visit at Zazzle HQs April 2009 Since Zazzle's launch in 2003, its focus always has been on technology. It started with unique digital custom printing technologies that allowed the founders to really get high quality products out at a not known quality (at this time). Today, in every presentation Zazzle stresses the fact that being leading edge in technology is what makes them special.

It may be the proximity to the many technology companies in their area that keeps them emphasizing the technology part – but I do not see Zazzle as a technology company – they are a "market maker". In my opinion, their core capability is to create new markets for products that before could not be exploited in any way.

Sheryl Graham called this "Niching the niche". Sheryl is a Zazzle Proseller, making her living by creating products on the Zazzle platform and selling them to others (http://www.zazzle.com/sagart1952) — most of them appealing just to a very small audience that traditional companies neither can recognize nor capture.

Starting from the scratch without any ballast or old knowledge or constraints, Zazzle created a mass customization ecosystem that has a number of unique features. Here are my ten points that make Zazzle special:

1.    Niching the niches: The unique vale proposition of Zazzle comes from utilizing the broadest possible scope of needs. Each day, about 50K new products are being created, most addressing a very tiny demand – but in total, this sums up. This also allows them to operate with almost no clear definition of target groups or target customer segments: While the "soccer mom" is the single largest customer of Zazzle, it is by far not its majority. The platform is build to cater to all different groups and clients.

2.    Event driven Marketing: The broad scope of users at Zazzle drives a lot of event-driven business beyond the traditional seasons. There is not just the wedding-season, but their has been Obama-Season, Client-#9-Season, Tax-Day-Season and so on … The core business driver is to enable (local) users with some very specific domain expertise to create products immediately for/after a special event in this domain.

3.    24-hour turnaround for most orders:
While most mass customizers need weeks to fulfill an order, Zazzle very early realized that being able to process an order in 24 hours opens many more markets (think of the entire last-minute gift market).

4.    Modular manufacturing system:
Their manufacturing system (in San Jose, CA) is build highly automated so that it can balance large spikes in demand without accumulating too high cost. In addition, a highly flexible work force allows to cover different demand cycles.

5.    Real-time rendering and focus on user experience:
Zazzle has some impressive rendering capabilities that allow the website to create any product in any specification in very high quality virtualization in real-time. While many other mass customizers still work with pre-fabricated pictures, here everything is rendered just on the spot.

This also enables another signature feature: Showcasing all products in different settings: Most products can be virtually placed on many different models. Zazzle realized that not all designs fit to same style of mannequin. This also caters to the broad scope of clients that utilize the Zazzle platform.

Or consider the "stitching simulation videos" when you choose custom embroidery. This allows the user to see how detailed the self-created pictures will be produced – also contributing to the user experience and quality perception of pro-users of the site.

6.    Allowing clients to focus:
Strong focus on creating a flexible platform for different kinds of relationships with different vendors. Their theme: "How to allow our clients to specialize on what they are really good at, and still sell an integrated offering at the same time". So, a traditional company like Pittney Bowes (zazzle.pb.com) can create its own custom goods offering on the same platform as a very design-driven initiative like artsprojekt.com. Compare the sites: They look extremely different, but are based on the same platform and fulfillment system.

7.    Relationships with brands:
Zazzle has build some very strong relationships with brands like Disney and the Star Wars Enterprise that allowed these companies to go beyond merchandising and offer real "fan-based content".

8.    Openness and opportunity-driven growth:
Zazzle created a platform that is flexible enough (with the help of their great engineers) so that vendors can come in and get (almost) any product they would like to offer customized.  There is no general restriction for new products. New assortment creation is driven by the clients and users.

9.    Generating customer knowledge:
Zazzle enables brands and established companies to use Zazzle as a platform for experimentation and testing that even makes money. Disney used Zazzle to allow customization of products with the characters of the movie "Cars", and their large retail clients used the popularity of characters selected by Zazzle users to predict the number of merchandises products in large scale. Creating these aggregated customer knowledge became a large benefit for Disney.

10.    Growing strongly despite the present economic downturn:
Although Zazzle realizes the slower economy, they still grow with high double digit figures. Corporate clients use the on-demand opportunities in these times as a more efficient way to create special assortments compared to building
large inventories. And consumers that postpone shopping for high-priced items still use the affordable Zazzle products to get a high-touch emotional products ("if I cannot afford the diamond ring for my girlfriend right now, I still can give her a great custom made t-shirt as an emotional gift").

But Zazzle also has to focus on a number of challenges:

  • Create a site and corporate image that appeals to many different stakeholders, from brand managers at Disney to freelance independent designers in the Gothic Scene, all using the same platform to distribute their products.
  • Manage client conflicts: Zazzle enables its corporate clients to extend their assortment into the custom product line, but at the same time, Zazzle also creates competing assortments by other vendors in the same category. This can lead to channel conflict.
  • Educate their customers: Being ahead in technology and mass-customization-thinking, Zazzle has to educate it different kinds of users what it is able to do – and what they are able to do with Zazzle.
  • To keep technology leadership, continuous investments in the technology platform is required, also including more and more complex integration of new technologies into the current platform.
  • How to grow really big: While Zazzle had remarkable growth in the past, it still has to become the Google of products. What is their strategy to put all the existing amazing technologies and market knowledge together and to create really scalable growth beyond the niches?

So I think we should stay tuned what Zazzle (and their equally strong competitors like Cafepress and Spreadshirt) are turning out in the next months … these are some of the most interesting players in the mass customization market out there in the moment.

Context: Zazzle Blog

29 09, 2008

The Top 20 of Mass Customization: A closer view on the agenda of the MIT Smart Customization Seminar

By | 2018-06-14T12:53:30+00:00 September 29th, 2008|Cases-Consumer, Cases-Industrial, Clothing, Customization Trends, Events, Personalization, Research Studies, Sneaker, T-Shirts|

The upcoming Smart Customization Seminar at MIT will gather a great group of individuals representing some of the most advanced and interesting businesses in mass customization today. The seminar is targeting executives in the mass customization market and companies interested in launching a mass customization business or applying some of its principles to boost an established business.

Here is a more detailed look on the program with some comments. Participate at this unique event and register today!

For the full program, go the the seminar's web site at MIT.

MONDAY, NOV 10, 2008 (starting at 2pm)

Introduction & opening addresses: Frank Piller & B. Joseph Pine II, MIT Smart Customization Group: Joe Pine and I will start the seminar with two short keynotes highlighting key aspects of matters today in mass customization. We also want to provide a framework how to navigate the two days during the seminar.

AdidasMass Customization Leaders: Adidas, Alison Page, Director, Mass Customization: Adidas' mass customization offering mi adidas is the premier example of custom sports wear since 2001, combining customization in all three dimensions: fit, style, and functionality (performance). Alison Page will talk about the learning of establishing the customization business unit within a global corporation.

Mass Customization Leaders: Business-to-Business Leader
We are talking to one of the most advaced examples of BtoB customization. Come back to see who will be speaking in this slot.

Mass Customization Next Generation: Spreadshirt, Inc. Jana Eggers, CEO
Spreadshirt represents a new breed of mass customization, combining personal creativity with the power of the social web. Spreadshirt has recently made it into the Top 5 European Growth list "Europe's 500". CEO Jana Eggers will share her experiences with leading a major customization brand, connecting average consumers, artists and corporations like Samsung, Coca Cola, or Chuck Norris.

Open Space discussion: Defining your mass customization strategy
Meet with a smaller group of peers to discuss your mass customization challenges and experiences. Groups will be facilitated by a leading professor in the field, providing also first-hand insight into the latest research to master your challenges.

Reception and networking dinner in the MIT Faculty Club

Tuesday, NOV 11, 2008

MitchellOpening address: William Mitchell, MIT Smart Customization Group, is a Professor of Architecture and Media Arts and Sciences at MIT and directs the Media Lab's Smart Cities research group. Before coming to MIT, he was Professor of Architecture and Director of the Master in Design Studies Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He also taught at Yale, UCLA, Carnegie-Mellon, and Cambridge Universities. He holds a BArch from the University of Melbourne, MED from Yale University, and MA from Cambridge. He is a recipient of honorary doctorates from the University of Melbourne and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. In 1997 he was awarded the annual Appreciation Prize of the Architectural Institute of Japan for his "achievements in the development of architectural design theory in the information age as well as worldwide promotion of CAD education."Mitchell is currently chair of The National Academies Committee on Information Technology and Creativity.

Mass Customization Leaders: Masters in Configuration, Lars Hvam and Niels Henrik Mortensen, DTU and Co-authors of "Product Customization":
Lars Hvam and Niels Henrik Mortensen are co-authors of the 2008 book "Product Customization: Designing Configuration Systems". Configuration is a key capability for mass customization. But setting up a configuration system is a holistic task that demands much more than just dealing with IT. Lars and Niels developed a methodology to implement a configuration system that helped pump manufacturer Grundfos to react on customer orders in 3 minutes instead of 3 days. American Power Conversion (APC), an infrastructure provider for data centers, could reduce its delivery time from 400 to 16 days. Learn from these and other examples how the latest methods for designing modular product architectures and configuration toolkits can improve the efficiency and customer satisfaction in your mass customization business.

Mass Customization Supply Chain Enablers: CustoMax.com, Bas Possen, Founder & CEO:
"In general, too little use is made of the advantage, that all people are different." That's the credo of Bas Possen who manages Europe's largest network of retailers for mass customization, combining multiple vendors of custom goods and retailers on one single platform, both online and offline. Bas Possen brings more than a decade of experience in mass customization to the meeting, having established a number of successful companies in the field.

Mass Customization Entrepreneurs: Meet the next generation of mass customization: Following MIT's entrepreneurial spirit, we proudly present some of the best upcoming new ventures in mass customization. Learn from the founders what motivated them to invest in a mass customization business and get the latest insights from their research and experiences.

Paragon Lake just secured more than $7 million of additional financing, demonstrating ist leadership in the custom jewelry industry. Tikatok is an award-winning idea that empowers children to create their own books and get them produced in large or small quantities. MyFactory and Proper Cloth are start-ups
of resent MIT Sloan School graduates in the field of custom fashion and
apparel. Look for their latest ideas how they want to differentiate
their sites in a crowded market. Sole Envie targets to become the first company in the US selling custom made footwear to women with a high design appeal.

All companies will be presented by their founders and CEOs and will
provide a great opportunity to learn about what's hot in the
mization market today and what market & technology trends are
coming up.

Matt Lauzon, Co-Founder & CEO, Paragon Lake (Jewelry)
Sharon Kan, President & CEO, Tikatok, Inc. (Children books)
Sasha Revankar, Founder, MyFactory (Fashion)
Seph Skerritt, Founder, Proper Cloth (Shirts)
Monika Desai, Founder, Sole Envie (Women's footwear)

Mass Customization Integrators: Zazzle Inside: How Zazzle's infrastructure enabled Keds to offer custom sneakers rapidly, Zazzle, Inc., and Keds Corporation:
Zazzle is the only on-demand retail platform for consumers and major brands, offering billions of one-of-a-kind products shipped within 24hours. Users can instantly create, customize to fit their personal style, purchase, and sell a near infinite array of products online. In an exclusive partnership with sportswear icon Keds, the inventor of the "sneaker", Zazzle created its first line of fully customizable sports shoes. The presentation will share the creation of a new customization assortment for Keds.

Mass Customization Leaders: Swarovski: How a leading international brand co-creates products with their customers, tba, Swarovski, Inc. & Johann Fueller, CEO, Hyve AG: 
Swarovski is the luxury brand name for crystals around the world. With sales of more than $3 billion, the Swarovski group is one of the largest players in its industry. Still, Swarovski's organization is very customer-centric. Recently, the company explored a number of co-creation and customization initiatives which will be presented in this talk. The co-presenter of this talk will be Johann Fueller, who was responsible for the realization and implementation of several customer co-design toolkits at Swarovski.

Desktop factory
Mass Customization Next Generation: Desktop Factory, Inc., Cathy Lewis, CEO:
The goal of Desktop Factory is to make 3D printing as common in offices, factories, schools and homes as laser printers are today. Just as laser printers became ubiquitous in the last decade, so too will new uses for 3D printing emerge as devices become inexpensive and widely available. Customization and personalization is the main driver behind this trend. Started in 2004, Desktop Factory is the leading company to build a manufacturing system for each customer for less than $5000.

Changing the Game: How Video Games Are Transforming the Future of Mass Customization, Ethan Mollick, MIT Sloan School:
Some of the world's best configuration toolkits today are not being developed to sell automotives or complex machine tools, but videogames. In his presentation, Ethan Mollick will share the latest insights on configuration toolkit development in this industry and what you can learn from this to develop state-of-the-art toolkits for your business. With David Edery, Ethan Mollick is the co-author of "Changing the Game: How Videogames are Transforming the Business World" (2008, Pearson Education/Financial Times Press).

Ifashion Mass Customization Next Generation: i-Fashion: The Future of
Personalization Today. Chang Kyu Park, Director, i-Fashion Technology
Center, Korea and Yongsoo Park, CEO, i-Omni Co. Ltd., Korea
: Virtual representations of products and customers are a key capacity of successful mass customization & personalization. They match customers' preferences to products and configurations. The i-Fashion Consortium in Korea operates one of the world's most advanced set-ups of virtual reality. Using virtual models based on an Intellifit body scan, consumers get personalized recommendations of products they may like. At the same time, vendors' efficiency increases due to the virtual — and not physical — representation of products for most stages of the value chain. Chang Kyu Park will discuss present achievements if i-Fashion and provide recommendations on using virtual models in your organization.

Open Space discussion: Implementing Mass Customization:
Meet with a smaller group of peers to discuss your mass customization challenges and experiences. Groups will be facilitated by a leading professor in the field, providing also first-hand insight into the latest research to master your challenges.

Closing comments by Frank Piller & B. Joseph Pine II, MIT Smart Customization Group

For the full program and registration, go the the seminar's web site at MIT.

20 09, 2008

Fancy Feet Custom Shoes: Update on Keds/Zazzle Custom Footwear

By | 2018-06-14T12:53:41+00:00 September 20th, 2008|Customization Trends, Footwear, Sneaker, User Manufacturing|

Last month, I reported about the cooperation of Keds and Zazzle that brought custom sneakers to a new level. Now, there is a first user-generated mashup-up of this offering. Check the website of Fancy Feet.

Here, a user programmed a few very easy, but nice, templates to customize sneakers with names and monograms. To fulfill his orders, the site entirely relies on Zazzle and its cooperation with Keds to manufacture the shoes.

This is a great example of the next generation of mass customization: A user utilizes a design and manufacturing infrastructure to create a new business.

By the way: Keds and Zazzle will share their experiences on the upcoming MIT Smart Customization Seminar in November at the MIT Faculty Club in Cambridge, MA. Click here for more information.

7 08, 2008

Keds & Zazzle Are Bringing Footwear Customization to a New Dimension

By | 2018-06-14T12:54:05+00:00 August 7th, 2008|Co-creation, Co-Design Process, Design, Footwear, Sneaker|

Keds-at-zazzle(updated – Aug 13, 2008) Customizing footwear has been a long theme in this blog. RYZwear recently offered a fresh approach to this (see my report), and now the evolution of custom footwear continued one more step. US shoe brand Keds just launched its new custom footwear offering, called Kedsstudio.com. While looking at the first glimpse like a copy of NikeID or Timberland's Custom, a closer look on the site convinced me that Keds went much further.

Keds is an iconic US brand that actually invented the term ‘sneaker’. Since 1916, Keds is offering its classic champion sneaker and a large variety of other styles. Keds is a subsidiary of the Stride Rite Corporation, which again is a unit of Collective Brands, Inc.. Collective Brands is the owner of Payless ShoeSource, a more than 4,500-store retail chain in footwear, and thus one of the very big guys in the international footwear market.

With kedsstudio.com, they created a mass customization offering that goes far beyond the present state of the art in this industry. Their advancements are with regard to two dimensions:

First, users can upload any design or picture on their shoe. So it is not just picking color options for pre-defined components of a shoe, but really getting what you want. Shoes are manufactured with an advanced digital printing technology that offers great variety in high quality. The customized sneakers are produced in China within 24 to 48 hours, and will be received by consumers within one to two weeks, depending upon the shipping method selected.


Secondly, and more interesting, Keds is one of the best examples of a new trend in mass customization: Keds actually did not build any mass customization operation of its own, but outsourced most of the process to mass customization intermediary Zazzle. Keds Studio is one of the finest examples for the benefits of the new MC infrastructure providers.

In an e-mail, Gregg Poulin, who initiated and implemented the Keds mass customization program as the e-commerce director at Keds, described how this collaboration worked (Gregg has left Keds to become CEO of compete.com).
When Keds' management decided to profit from the mass customization trend, Gregg had to face a tough challenge:

"Essentially I had no budget and very little partnership dollars to create a custom shoe program that as you know can cost millions of dollars. In order to complete the vision I needed to be creative and find partners."

While browsing the web looking for a solution, he found my blog and a report on Confego, the company of Brennan Mulligan that later became part of Zazzle:


[solution] I found through your writings is Confego. They were the second key to the solution. I had the brand, they had the process/systems. Now I needed the community, which is where zazzle.com fit in."

With this partnership, Keds has beaten Adidas, Nike, Puma, Timberlands and the other large players in the industry with a very elegant solution: It truly is the first 'custom' shoe program that enables people to not only design their own shoes from the ground up but also to sell their own collection to others and make a profit.
Gregg told me:

"Within 48 hours, there have been over 18,000 designs published on Zazzle. Can you imagine the dollars it would have taken an internal team to accomplish that feat? No inventory to carry, not guessing on what will sells. At $60 per pair everyone is making margins well above, including the factory!"

The configurator is executed well and has all the elements of a good mass customization configurator. It also features functionalities like sharing designs, getting inspirations, using templates, saving designs, etc. which are part of the Zazzle online experience.
For Zazzle, Keds also is a large win as they now could add an entire new category to their assortment of customizable products.
For Keds, mass customization is just seen as a continuity of what consumers used to be by their own:

"Since the launch of the Champion in 1916, consumers have been enhancing their Keds with their own personal style using markers, paints, pens and other creative tools," G. Ribatt, president and chief executive officer of The Stride Rite Corporation, Keds' parent company, is quoted in a press release.

"This growing form of expression was the inspiration for Keds Studio. Through our relationship with Zazzle, we can now offer Keds customers the opportunity to bring an uninhibited range of design options and a more professional design aesthetic to this classic shoe."

Keds Studio and its cooperation with Zazzle is a great case of what you can achieve in mass customization with creativity and little money by using the existing infrastructure of mass customization enablers. And, by the way, Zazzle does not care whether you are Keds or just an average consumer: They may not launch an entire new product line for you, but like every consumer, you can turn your creative ideas and market opportunities in your own offering (Spreadshirt or Cafepress are offering similar services).

Update Aug 13, 2008: In a mail from Zazzle, they told me that one week after the launch, more than 30,000 user-generated designs for custom shoes were created in the community.

Jeff Beaver, co-founder and chief product officer of Zazzle, reports:

“We have an incredibly diverse and talented community of designers, and had high hopes that the opportunity to create custom shoes would get them excited. We’ve simply been blown away by the response, both the volume and variety of user-generated designs have exceeded our expectations. 

Some of the most popular themes include art, music, animals and politics, but you can already find pretty much anything.  Developers are also taking advantage of the platform – within 48 hours after launch, one blogger created a Google Maps mashup so that you can get a map or satellite photo of your hometown on your new kicks.” 

Read More
24 07, 2008

RYZwear.com: Applying the Threadless Concept to Footwear

By | 2018-06-14T12:54:13+00:00 Juli 24th, 2008|Co-Design Process, Crowdsourcing, Design, Footwear, MC Alternatives, Open/User Innovation, Sneaker|

we’ve set out to create a people’s brand – a community of designers,
sneakerheads and anyone that cares enough about art, fashion or sneakers to
speak up. Together we’ll create sneakers that are designed and chosen, not by
some big, faceless corporation, but by you.

Think of RYZ
as a stage for designers to showcase their creativity and a forum for people to
define what great sneaker design means. In other words, we just make
comfortable sneakers – the rest is up to you.“

This is how Rob Langstaff announced his new
business just one month ago, ryzwear.com The hope of RYZ is to become the Threadless
of footwear
, connecting people who design custom sneakers with those that
vote on the designs and purchase. I am wondering since long what could be good fields
where the extremely profitable Threadless idea can be applied to, and footwear
could be one option.

Rob Langstaff is not an
outsider of the sneaker world. The former
Adidas America Inc. president
has turned the business model of its former employer
upside down, Instead of assigning design jobs to inhouse designers, he is relying
on online clusters of consumers to design products and figure out which ones to
sell. „In Ryz’s case, it’s MySpace meets „American Idol,“ with
footwear as the unit of expression“, as an online report called the business model.

„The corporate design
team is limited by its walls,“ Langstaff is quoted in the news report,
„The corporation shouldn’t be dictating what the consumer wears. The
consumers should.“

This is how RYZ works:

  • Each month, Ryz will post a
    different standardized shoe silhouette on its Web site (a high-top shoe and a
    low-top shoe were the first two). Users can download the template and, using
    Adobe Photoshop, illustrate or add images across the shoe.

  • Site visitors can rate and
    comment on submissions. After a month, a winner will be declared and Ryz will
    order a run of the winning design — 100 pairs to start and 1,000 pairs by next
    — from a contract manufacturer in China.

  • The winning designer will
    get $1000 for the start, plus royalties of $1/piece on ongoing sales, and get their
    profiles attached to each pair and a listing in Ryzwear.com’s Hall of Fame.

  • Two weeks after the contest
    ends, Ryz will sell the winning shoes on the Web and, for now, in Xebio Co., a leading Japanese
    sporting-goods retailer that owns a stake in Ryz. The retail price: $75 to $90
    a pair

By 2012, Langstaff hopes to
allow users to design the entire shoe, from the shape of the sole to the shape
of the eyestay. He also hopes to get into athletic wear. He expects to rely on
customers to do most of his marketing.

Rob Langstaff is putting $4
million into his shoe startup, saying there is too great a disconnect between
businesses and consumers. He expects to do $40 million in revenue by 2012
(which would be about half the time of Threadless‘ way to scale, but could work
given his larger experience in the market and the higher price tags).

Interestingly, among some
of the people helping Langstaff to set to the business is Mikal Peveto, a former footwear executive who started
design-your-own shoe site Customatix
in 2000. In case you have followed mass customization since its beginning, you should
know Customatix. The company got much attention and had one of the best online
configurators of its time. But it also did offer too much of a good thing,
giving users really zillions of choices at a time when consumers were not
really educated in mass customization configurators.

But Peveto believes Ryzwear
can succeed where Customatix failed because consumers today are more comfortable
interacting and purchasing online from less-established companies.  „Our timing wasn’t great. We couldn’t get
people to buy because they didn’t trust the brand,“ Peveto said. „Now
is a completely different time than in 2000 because there are so many different
brands that are valid.“

So I am curious to see whether
Mikal Peveto and Rob Langstaff’s predictions come true. They took some serious
modifications of adopting the Threadless models for their industry. But
Threadless‘ customers are as much purchasing the membership in a club, a
community, by purchasing t-shirts frequently at $15 a pop. I am not quite sure that
this will work with $90 sneakers.

To develop however a great (and
profitable) underground line of sneakers with a great story, their approach may
work will. T
hey may want to learn from Muji, the
Japanese’s retailer, and its approach to the model. Muji is not just
letting customers vote on new designs, but also asks them to make a
small cash payment on the item they really want to have in stores.
Thus, they can much better predict what
people will purchase later. Such an approach also could benefit RYZ as
it would connect the voting process closer with purchasing.


A good article in Oregonlive told me first about RYZ

recent article in the
San Francisco Chronicle on crowdsourcing and user idea
competitions is featuring RYZ, Threadless, and a number of other companies.

My previous
reports about the CEC User Co-Design Competitionand Open Source Footwear.

14 02, 2008

Invitation: European Conference on Sports and Innovation

By | 2018-06-14T12:56:01+00:00 Februar 14th, 2008|Events, Open/User Innovation, Research Studies, Sneaker|

InnosportlogoAre you interested in the future of sports and mass customization in the sports goods industry? Then you should join this upcoming conference.

12 to 14 March 2008 in EINDHOVEN, Netherlands

The conference is an initiative by the European Action Project INNOSPORT.EU. In this project, a number of the core players of the European sports goods industry brainstormed in the last year how to create a better platform for this important industry. I was invited to join the advisory board of this project, as mass customization and user innovation are regarded as some of the key trends in this sector.

The results of this coordinated brainstorming will be presented on the conference. This also is THE KEY EVENT if you are interested in participating in European projects around this sector.

Topics to be discussed on the event:

Sport vision 2015: What social trends are there in relation to sport? What developments are taking place in health and safety aspects? What impact can sport have on the economy? Where are the opportunities for innovation? The Sport Vision 2015 which will be presented at the conference will provide some insight into these issues about trends, needs, aspects and innovation opportunities. The programme also includes a number of workshop sessions and visits to field labs about football, sports promotion, gymnastics, swimming and horse-riding.

Innosport sports innovation platformEuropean platform: The European Sport Innovation Platform (ESIP) will be launched at the conference. This is a proactive networking platform at European level for high-tech companies, knowledge institutes and government, with the aim of joining forces in innovation and creating new opportunities as a result.

Free company presentation: We are pleased to offer you the opportunity to present your company free of charge during the conference. Please visit the website for more information.

International speakers who have already agreed to take part in the conference are Alberto S. Bichi – Secretary General FESI (Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry), Antonello Marega – R&D Director of Tecnica, and Philippe Freychat – Vice-president Sporaltec and R&D Director of Decathlon.

Program and registration: For a detailed and up-to-date programme, please visit www.innosport.eu where you can also register for the conference.

Further contact: Marc van der Zande, TNO Science and Industry, marc.vanderzande@tno.nl

13 11, 2007

Create the Shoe of you Dreams – Participate in the CEC Shoe Design Contest

By | 2018-06-14T12:56:50+00:00 November 13th, 2007|Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Footwear, Open/User Innovation, Sneaker|

Open Innovation and crowdsourcing finally is arriving in the footwear industry

CecshoedesigncontestCrowdsourced logos were yesterday, now it is all about shoes. The CEC project is a large European research project dedicated to nothing smaller than reinventing the footwear industry. My old research group at TUM is a major partner in the project, and as part of the work, they are now running the first European Consumer Shoe Design Contest where everyone can become a shoe designer.

Your task is to design a shoe model along a theme called “Original Origin”. This category of aesthetic trends expresses cultural values, regional roots and techniques and at the same time uses authentic materials and innovative shapes. The contest asks everyone to play with the theme and interpret it in the most creative, but still feasible way.

More details on the contest can be found in the CEC Contest briefing which also has the exact rules of the design contest.

Submissions are evaluated by a top-class jury consisting of international shoe and design experts from companies like Hugo Boss, CallagHan, Liitto, Future Concept Lab, and Frau. The jury’s criteria for the assessment will be design, innovativeness, feasibility, task alignment, and an overall score for excellence. In addition, also the public can vote on their favorite design and nominate a public winner.

Awards are a bit technical but provide a nice opportunity for everyone interested in footwear:

The first price is a site visit with Hugo Boss in Morrovalle/Italy to get a prototype of your design as well as to gain insight into prototyping process.

The second price is a real working prototype of your design, manufactured according to your design and mailed to you

The third price is a free participation at the “Future Vision Workshops” dedicated to the aesthetic trends in Milan (also, winners of the first and second price are invited to participate).

How to participate:

Register on cec-designcontest.net and enter the “Design Studio” to upload your design. All what you have to do is to provide a sketch or rendering of your design (and a short description). All further information can be found in the design briefing.

Submissions are accepted until December 31st, 2007. Winners will be announced on February 29th, 2008.

Now, start designing!

A personal comment at the end:
The footwear industry is an extremely conservative industry far behind many other industries with regard to open innovation and customer driven value creation. So it is a real revolution that they now start such a competition. I am curious to see how this contest may change their attitude and expectations – and if the wining design ever will be produced. However, the rather long contest rules and the not too fancy prices already show how difficult it is to get their commitment. But it is a great start – and hopefully more initiatives like this will follow!)

Context information:

– The contest web site: http://www.cec-designcontest.net
– Earlier post on the CEC-made Shoe Research Project
– Similar ongoing competition (open source footwear)

1 08, 2007

Puma BBQ for Millionaires: Puma cooperates with Italian luxury brand Schedoni to offer special collection of customized shoes

By | 2018-05-07T15:31:45+00:00 August 1st, 2007|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Design, Failures and Flaws, Footwear, Sneaker|

Puma by SchedoniEarlier this week, I was in London for a workshop. As I had some time to spare, I browsed through Harrods which was just opposite my hotel. In te store, I found at least ten different customization offerings, including custom gold clubs and a “mi adidas” sales unit. But in the men’s shoe department (not in the Sports department!), I discovered a new Puma mass customization offering which was already launched in April of this year, but apparently is so exclusive that I did not discover it before.

To upscale its BBQ offerings, Puma cooperated with Italian luggage maker Schedoni, one of the top Italian luxury brands. The company has a special line of luggage for your new Ferrari, or offers bullet-proof briefcases used by the Italian secret service, and, since a few years, also hand crafted shoes (shoe manufacturing was the original core of the company).

To supplement your Ferrari (or Volkswagen) experience, Schedoni is now teaming up with Puma to offer a line of driving shoes that can be customized with regard to color. In London, I now saw this system in operation. Fitting to the craft nature of the product, the configurator is a low-tech high-touch system. In London, I could play around with the shoe building „Puzzle Kit“ which allows you to choose from a wide variety of leather colors for both the outer leather, and a contrasting leather color that shoes through the familiar PUMA logo in the side of the shoe.

The Motortrend blog knows that “no more than 500 of each combination will be made, and each numbered and personalized.” But for 350 British pounds a pair (almost 700 USD), I personally found this a bit to expensive for a pair of high-end sneakers.

Like with the Puma BBQ system, the Puma-Schedoni configurator will rotate in 50 Puma stores worldwide and will be introduced in selected high-end department stores. The production process will take about 4-6 weeks, and will be performed in the Modena factory of Schedoni. Shoes will be shipped to the customers’ home afterwards.

PumaconfigkofferWhile the press and blog reports that I found about this system all claimed this great combination, the actual display at Harrods was a bit disappointing. Indeed, they had this great leather traveling trunks shown in the picture left (all pictures from PUMA via Pumatalk.com) but sample shoes (in the boxes left and right) and leather patches were unorganized and looked used – and this even in the high-end atmosphere of the Harrods footwear department. This is a typical other example of using mass customization as a brand building exercise. Such a system does not really demand much effort in introduction, but has large press appeal and underlines the fashion appeal of Puma.

What the benefit for Schedoni is, I am not sure. They could have made this as a profitable stand-alone business with much higher margins, I believe, and perhaps a better positioning in the market.


More pictures and reports in Motortrend and Pumatalk
And my previous posts on customized sneakers.

28 02, 2007

Nike is Trying Threadless‘ Crowdsourcing Model

By | 2018-05-07T15:32:29+00:00 Februar 28th, 2007|Co-creation, Crowdsourcing, Customization Trends, Footwear, MC Alternatives, Open/User Innovation, Sneaker|

More Co-Creation at Nike

NikesneakerplayCoolhunting has an interesting small report on an upcoming NikeID project: They are offering their top-end (fashion) shoe, Nike Air Force 1, in a special co-design version. Starting 6 March 2007, users can design a custom Nike Air Force 1 using the NikeID configurator (how it works in detail). Designs are exhibited on the web, other users vote on the winning designs, and the winning design will then be specially made only for the winner, complete with bling sneaker jewelry.

For this project, Nike is collaborating with Sneakerplay, a social networking site of sneaker enthusiasts (only Sneakerplay members can particpate). While this sounds a bit like Threadless‘ collective customer commitment (crowdsourcing) model, it is different:

Nike takes the community, co-creation, and community evaluation idea, adds an easy-to-use toolkit to enable easier co-design (at Threadless, you have to know Photoshop), but then produces the winning design in a custom manufacturing step just for the winner.

[UPDATE: Just after I wrote this post, Bill commented on this post, saying that this is a good old design contest and not a new crowdsourcing model. And I agree! ]

Why not for everyone? Don’t ask me … it seems to be more like a clever PR pilot then a new business model. But at least it is a start and great idea to live their new „The consumer decides“ philosophy with a different twist.

26 02, 2007

The Consumer Decides: Nike Focuses Competitive Strategy on Customization and Creating Personal Consumer Experiences — Data about the Nike Plus Personalization System

By | 2018-05-07T15:32:34+00:00 Februar 26th, 2007|Cases-Consumer, Customization Trends, Footwear, MC Alternatives, Personalization, Sneaker|

NiketitelDuring its recent Investor Days, the Nike top management board announced a strong shift of its strategy from being a sportswear brand to becoming the enabler of customized, personal experiences. “Investor Days” are an extensive briefing for analysts; taking place only about every two years (the last was in June 2005). During its recent briefing at the company’s headquarters in Portland on Feb 6, 2007, the company placed a strong focus on its new global theme “The Consumer Decides” and revealed some interesting facts about its customization ambitions and ways to sustainable consumer experience.

During the meeting, also a number of interesting performance data of the Nike Plus system were provided, the Apple-Nike cooperation that allows runners to customize their running experience in a simple but very clever way. It is a strong contrast to the exploding variety Nike is facing today, offering more than 13,000 product different styles in every single quarter.

First, Nike CEO Mark Parker explained the theme “The Consumer Decides”:

“The Consumer Decides is one of Nike’s 11 maxims that really define who we are and how we compete as a company. Today, consumers have never held as much power as they do today. They have more choices and more access to those choices. They connect and collaborate with each other over the world. … Clearly, the power has shifted to consumers. For every Nike employee, there’s ten million consumers out there deciding whether or not the products and brands we offer really matter. … The ability we have to connect with consumers is the single most important competitive advantage in business today, and nobody does that better than Nike. There is no substitute for connecting with consumers, but it’s really just the beginning.”

Nike’s Brand President, Charlie Denson, focused in his speech on the changing consumer and the particular demand for customization:

[Consumers] want to be part of a community, whether it’s a digital community or a virtual community, or whether it’s a physical community. They want to feel like they’re a part of something. They want to be engaged. …

And another thing that is very, very important to us as we look to the future is the value that the consumer is placing on customization. It’s a very, very important part of the way that they interact with anybody or with brands today. We used to talk about the consumer in what we thought was specific, but in today in retrospect, feels like generalities, the fact that we used to put a 18 and a 22-year old in a same set of psychographic, demographic targets. Today, I can very comfortably say that the 18 and the 22-year olds are working on different — they’re living on different planets or at different places. As Mark said, these consumers have more choices than they’ve ever had.

What our challenge is to keep it simple, make those choices as simple as we can, and make them personal. We’ve spent the last, or in our case, 20 or 30 years trying to bundle things, adding value to a purchase or a relationship. And now, it’s almost in reverse, because you have to unbundle everything if it’s going to become customizable.

During the event, the Nike Plus system was described as a perfect example of this strategy. Trevor Edwards, VP Global Brand & Category Management, describes the system and gives some numbers on its acceptance:

Nike2nikeplusNike Plus „combines the physical world with the digital world. We put a sensor in the shoe that speaks to the iPod, and you can hear how far you went, how long you went and how many calories you’ve burned, pretty simple thoughts. And then, when you dock it, you have a world of information at your fingertips. You get to see all that you’ve done, all your runs stored in a very simple, intuitive web experience where you can set goals for yourself. You can see how you’ve progressed. In fact, this week, I think we’ve put up — you can actually map your run anywhere you go. In addition, you can join in the Nike Plus community where you can challenge your friends or other community members to run physically, but compete virtually. And since our launch, we have close to 200,000 members.

What do the numbers tell us today? First important fact, 35% of the members that we surveyed are actually new to using Nike footwear. So, we’ve brought more consumers into our franchise. The second part is, more than half of them are actually using the survey to service four times a week. And this is probably the most important statistic, 93% said they would recommend it to a friend, 93%. This is an incredibly sticky proposition, a great way to build loyalty for our brand and obviously build the business.”

Charlie Denson describes the growth plans Nike has with the system:

“That is a dedicated consumer experience. It is changing the game, and it’s creating that competitive advantage for us. We would like to see 15% of all runners using Nike Plus, 15%. Now, that’s not a very big number, except for there’s 100 million people who call themselves runners worldwide. ….”

So in summary, this sounds like a big success and stresses that this really has been a clever idea to provide customization in this industry in a rather simple way, but in one that matters for consumers. And with the target of 15 million users, this would be one of the largest mass customization programs ever.

In another section of the event, Don Blair, Nike’s CFO, provided some interesting figures on the scope of variety that Nike is facing today. I often mention in my presentations the explosion of SKUs and variants that global brands today think to have to offer to create appealing products in heterogeneous markets. Nike seems to have recognized that just increasing the number of variants is not the ultimate way to appeal to consumers:

SKU productivity. One of the great strengths of our company is our ability to create compelling innovative products that excite consumers. But there can be too much of a good thing. Each quarter we sell about 13,000 different styles of footwear and apparel and because of our high rate of seasonal turnover, we sell tens of thousands of different styles every year. And there are many additional styles that make it part way through the process, but don’t end up in the final line that goes to market.

Each one of these tens of thousands of styles drives costs; costs for design, development, sampling, transportation, storage and sales. For footwear 95% of our revenue comes from about 35% of our styles and for apparel the figure is about 40%. …”

Costs of samples to provide this variety were given with more than $100 million. Given these numbers, an adaptable product like Nike Plus or a truly mass customized product, produced on-demand, sounds very appealing and much more efficient.

For the full transcript of the investors meeting, go to nike.com.

8 11, 2006

Adidas Finally Adds Experiment & Service to its Mi Adidas Product – New mi Adidas Innovation Center Opened in Paris

By | 2018-05-07T15:33:17+00:00 November 8th, 2006|Cases-Consumer, Co-Design Process, Customization Trends, Footwear, Offline Customization, Sneaker, Technologies & Enablers, Virtual Models|

Adidasparisstore1I recently wrote about the opportunities of bringing mass customization into stores and selling the experience as much as the custom product (see the DNA Style Lab posting). Now Adidas, a premier example of mass customization in my talks and lectures, has expanded its in-store presence with a huge new mi Adidas retail outlet in its new Paris flagship store.

The 1,750 square meter Paris adidas Sport Performance store occupies two floors on the Avenue de Champs Elysees and features a wide selection of adidas products. The core part of this store is a pimped mi-adidas sales system, called mi Innovation Center (mIC):

„The „mi Innovation Center“ will change the way consumers shop and their expectations at retail. It is a true first and we are thrilled to premier the mIC in Paris offering customers a whole new dimension of interaction with adidas products,“ Karen Feldpausch-Sturm, Senior Vice President of Global Retail for Adidas, is quoted in a press announcement. Adidas, headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany, plans to roll out the new high-tech concept stores in major cities worldwide, including one in China in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Features of the new customization unit in the mIC include:

# A large glossy, black cube is the focal point of the center. Here, customers can customize their own „mi adidas“, using now a larger flat-screen configurator to alter the details of the shoes by simply pointing a finger to the screen. Laser and infra-red technology then translate the gestures into commands. Foot scanning and pressure scanning is done as in the mi adidas stores before.

# New is also a virtual mirror where users can see their personalized shoe on their own foot without even removing ones shoes!

# But customization is not only high-tech: Customers are accompanied by specially trained „adidas experts“ who, like a personal trainer, advise on nutrition, exercise and products. With a portable hand-held PC, the sales associates record a consumer’s personal data and desires, creating a user profile that he/she can view at their convenience via the internet.

# In addition to the cube, the center also provides some insight into new approaches of selling standard products: At a table, a sliding carriage can be moved over a desired shoe and then specific product information will appear on the screen via Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.

Update: On YouTube is now a Video showing exactly the new mi adidas customization process (thanks to Rebang for the link).

I don’t had the opportunity to visit this store in person, but a sneaker enthusiast posted a nice review on the BKRW blog (the reviewer seemed to have not heard before that Adidas is offering basically the same service since 2001, thus not in such a fancy retail outlet):

„Well, to be honest we were really impressed and can’t wait to test it for real (don’t worry we will be in the first row…) ! The concept is really simple, it’s a kind of NIKE ID applied to performance shoes. It means that you can customize our own performance shoes, according to the way u need it. You can change the design, change the colors, add some words or some special tags, but most of all you can even materials of the shoes : sole, mid-sole, chassis, uppers, studs… The truth is that ADIDAS is pushing the whole performance concept with the even way of customizing your shoes, because even being in MI INNOVATION CENTER is a travel into the future: as we said you are running on a video carpet, each salesman has a touch screen tablet to change into real time your adjustments and preferences, while you are directing your mouse on the menu screen by the means of a laser system of pointing…“

Is all this just another marketing gimmick?, asks Business Week in a report about this store.

My answer is yes and no. Regarding customization of the product, it is just a pimped up version of the mi adidas retail units that are in place since years. But regarding the overall strategy of customization, it is a large step forward. For the first time, the company is not focusing on the custom product, but on the custom service and experience users get when purchasing the shoe. The custom nutrition program and fitness guides offer much more value as yet-an-other color-option at NikeID. So while Nike had an easy win with the Ipod-Nike-combination offering individual tracking of your running behavior, I think Adidas has beaten its competition with this integration retail innovation by far – if they are able to scale up this system and deliver what they promise.

Business Week quotes Fiona Fairhurst, director of Zero Point Zero One, a sports consultancy in Nottinghamshire, England, on this:

„These days if you look around the gym, everyone is their own fitness expert. People know how to use heart-rate monitors and measure their own level of hydration …An individual will steer clear of a brand that doesn’t fit properly, no matter how exclusive that brand is. If you know that Adidas fits you perfectly and comfortably then they have a customer for life.“