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

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.

Context:

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

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.