MCPC 2009 Report Day 2: Benedict Dellaert, Zazzle, and Joe Pine

Mcpc-2009-day2-impressions The first day of the MCPC ended with a great dinner in the center of Helsinki and one drink too much in the bar later. Still, everyone was back in time for the second day.

For more impressions and summaries, also check out the many Twitter feeds on the MCPC 2009 that report live!

MCPC 2009 Day 2: Prof. Benedict Dellaert from Erasumus University in Rotterdam started the second day with a great keynote on "Designing the gateway — gateways to product spaces". He provided a very good overview of the state of research in marketing on the space where customers and suppliers interact today.

He started his differentiation of personalization and customization: Personalization is often a strategy of retailers to passively support customers to find the right selection, e.g. by using profile data or collaborative filtering. At the same time, mass customization is seen as a strategy by manufacturers to actively integrate customers in a co-design process. Along this line (a continuum, not two alternatives), Benedict then addressed the crucial question how to match solution options available in general with the capabilities of customers to make the choice: "It is nice to have the flexibility

[to mass customize], but consumers also have to have the capabilities to make the right choice."

James Johnson from Avery Dennison and Jeff Beaver & David Gross from Zazzle followed with the second plenary presentation. The project that they presented was actually initiated during the Business Seminar of the Smart Customization Group at MIT last November: There at our meeting, the multi-billion incumbent  Avery Dennison met the much smaller Zazzle.com and started a cooperation that was launched last Thursday.

Custom binders are the first product that shoppers can customize under the new business alliance. Shoppers will be able to generate custom binders for contests, promotions and sales, or business binders for the office. They can select from thousands of templates, or start from scratch with a blank canvas. Like with every Zazzle designs, people can create stores and make money by selling designs in the Zazzle marketplace.

The interesting thing is that Zazzle is not offering its manufacturing system. "At Avery, we've been looking at Mass Customization for several years. Our focus on Enterprise Lean Sigma has allowed us to develop the expertise in manufacturing to be able to provide custom-made one-off products while still enjoying the benefits of mass production," said James Johnson who is the Director of Business Development at Avery Dennison Office Products. "Zazzle's software capabilities plus their partnerships with leading branded content owners complement our manufacturing core competencies." So it takes more than flexible manufacturing to do mass customization successfully.

Consider what the cooperation with a MC platform provided for Avery. The company was offering custom binders already since about one year over their own website. In just three days on Zazzle, there already were 60 times more designs created than in 365 days on their own website.

After these exciting keynotes, the conference participants again spread out into parallel sessions on all issues being custom and personal. Again, it is impossible to cover the breadth of discussion here.

After lunch, Fabrizio Salvador and I provided a plenary presentation based on our recent Sloan Management Review paper. I am sure some blogging participants will cover it soon, and will refer to them for a review.

After many exciting more parallel sessions, the day ended with Joe Pine, who provided some outlook.

His last slide probably was the most memorable:

  • In 1987, when Stan Davis coined the term, mass customization = oxymoron.
  • In 1993, when Joe wrote his first book, mass customization = "the new frontier".
  • In 2009, when we all came together to the MCPC 2009 in Helsinki, mass customization = imperative!

I believe that the first 2.5 days of the provided great evidence that now mass customization and personalization are really becoming an imperative for businesses of all kinds — and also for other organizations like education, public management, or non-profits.

The conference continues tomorrow with the business seminar at the Helsinki School of Economics.

By | 2018-06-14T11:08:44+00:00 Oktober 6th, 2009|Customization Trends, Events, General, MCPC 2009|

About the Author:

Frank T. Piller is a Co-Director of the MIT Smart Customization Group at the MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and a chair professor of management at the Technology & Innovation Management Group of RWTH Aachen University, Germany, one of Europe’s leading institutes of technology. Before entering his recent position in Aachen, he worked at the MIT Sloan School of Management (2004-2007) and has been an associate professor of management at TUM Business School, Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Frequently quoted in The New York Times, The Economist, and Business Week, amongst others, Frank is regarded as one of the leading experts on strategies for customer-centric value creation, like mass customization, personalization, and innovation co-creation. His recent analysis of the crowdsourcing business model “Threadless” (co-authored with Susumu Ogawa), an innovative crowdsourcing business model in the fashion industry, has been elected as one of the Top-20 articles in MIT Sloan Management Review.