Volume 7, Issue 4

An Empirical Study of the External Environmental Factors Influencing the Degree of Product Customization

Enrico Sandrin

External environmental factors play a fundamental role in the strategic decisions a company intends to make, which in turn influence the organizational design choices. A widely known key strategic decision in the context of mass customization is the degree of product customization a firm provides to its customers. However, the impact of the external environment on the degree of product customization has yet to be empirically investigated. To narrow this research gap, the present paper empirically examines the impacts of three external environmental factors, namely competitive intensity, heterogeneity of customer demands, and dynamism of customer demands, on the degree of product customization, using survey data from 195 manufacturing plants in three industries and eight countries. Among the three examined factors, the paper identifies the dynamism of customer demands as a key factor that pushes firms to increase the degree of product customization they provide to their customers.


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Designing Business Models for Sustainable Mass Customization: A Framework Proposal

Maike Hora, Stephan Hankammer, Luca Canetta, Sultan Kaygın Sel, Shirin Gomez, Stefan Gahrens

In the last three decades, the idea of mass customization has been broadly discussed in management literature as a business model for companies that offer goods to customers with heterogeneous needs. At the same time, the discussion on business models that deal with the increasing customer demand for more sustainable products has gained importance. In the research field of mass customization, there is a lack of research that integrates the new affordances of sustainability into mass customization based business models. With our study, we contribute to this research gap by developing a set of generic sustainable mass customization business model patterns. For this purpose, we first describe the enablers for mass customization and for environmental sustainability separately. In a second step, we combine both perspectives and propose a set of seven generic patterns that serve as guidance for integrating sustainable mass customization on a business model level. Finally, we provide an application of our framework to the Consumer Electronics industry showcasing ideas for practical implementation.

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Gender Differences in Online Mass Customization: An Empirical Consumer Study Which Considers Gift-Giving

Dominik Walcher, Michael Leube, Paul Blazek

Although several studies on gender commerce were published in the last decade, showing the importance of a differentiated address of men and women in marketing, studies on gender differences in online mass customization (MC) are rare. With the help of an empirical study it was analyzed which categories of customized products are preferred by women and men and if products are bought for self-usage or for gift-giving. A quantitative study with 247 participants showed that products in the categories “food & nutrition” as well as “personalized look” are preferably bought by women, whereas products in the categories“ made-to-measure-apparel” and “footwear” are predominantly purchased by men. The research showed that, in all product categories considered, women customized products for gift-giving more than men. This result follows the theoretical foundation in evolutionary psychology. In addition, in the category “personalized fashion” women bought significantly more products (i.e. printed T-shirts) to give as a gift to others than men. Based on the results of the study recommendations for adapting the customization process to the gender of the users and the objective of purchase are given.

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Cross-cultural Comparison on Customers Preference for Configurators in China and Germany

Ning Wang, Kanliang Wang

The promising configurator development in collectivist country like China calls for more focus on how to design good featured configurators according to different cultural background. This paper examines four characteristics the design of configurators in China should differ from their German counterparts. This paper has combined two research methods. First, an online survey is implemented with 72 respondents in each country. Afterwards, 2 Chinese focus groups (16 participants in total) and 2 German focus groups (16 participants in total) are implemented to validate the result from online survey. Results show that Chinese tend to have positive attitude on social features embedded in configurators such as “asking professional designers or friends for feedback” and “sharing final design via social media”, while Germans tend to have negative attitude towards these social features. Moreover, Chinese customers have significant preference difference on valuing the feature of “the most popular option”. However, on the feature of “starting from most popular designs created by other customers or from professional designers”, there is no significant cultural different reflected, while customers in both countries tend to have positive attitude towards starting from professional’s designs.

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To Communicate Co-Creation or Not? Examining the Effects on Brand and Product Perception

Marcel Weber, Rens Gruppelaar, Sjoerd Oosterhof

Many scholars assert that co-creation with customers in new product and service development will have positive effects on the brand, innovation speed, innovation adoption and loyalty. Looking more closely at these assertions one comes to the finding that the majority of this research applies to the effect on customers that have been involved in the co-creation or co-creating customers, i.e. customers or users that have taken part in the co-creation process. Only few studies have investigated the effect of the co-creation on (potential) customers, which have not been involved in this co-creation, the so-called non-co-creating customers. This lack of research is remarkable, as co-creating customers generally only form a fraction of the total customer base of companies. This paper reports on two studies in the effects of co-creation in new product/service development on the larger part of the customer base, the non-co-creating customers. The studies focus on the brand and product effects of co-creation disclosure on these (potential) customers that have not been involved for complex luxury goods and for consumer services. Disclosure of the co-creation entails the communication or promotion by the company that the products have been developed through co-creation with other customers. It is found that co-creation disclosure can have positive effects on brand and product perception for services, confirming most extant findings. However, for luxury products this positive effect is not significant.

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Customer Perceived Value for Self-designed Personalised Products Made Using Additive Manufacturing

Syahibudil Ikhwan Abdul Kudus, R. Ian Campbell, Richard Bibb

As end-users become more involved in personalising designs, Additive Manufacturing (AM also known as 3D printing) has become an enabler to deliver this service through the manipulation of three-dimensional designs using easy-to-use design toolkits. Consequently, end-users are able to fabricate their personalised designs through various types of AM systems. This study employs an experimental method to investigate end-users’ reflections on the value of 3D Printed personalised product designs based on Product Value and Experiential Value. The results suggest that end-users gave higher value to all measurements for the 3D printed personalised products. This indicates that 3D printed personalised products have increased perceived value when compared to standard mass-production counterparts.

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Finding Suitable Amount of Variety for Product Platforms

Slavomir Bednar, Vladimir Modrak

The development of methods to identify the optimal product variety of a product platform is an important research issue in mass customization. A product platform which includes a wide portfolio of modules or components allows customers to customize their product by expressing a lot of different requirements. However, certain requirements may be constrained each other thus bringing customers to be disappointed by unfeasible product configurations. The present article explores the possibility of using entropy-based measures for quantifying the complexity induced by product variety in the context of constrained product configuration. More specifically, this article proposes a method which uses entropy-based measures to decide the optimal variety for product platforms. This method characterises a given product platform comparing the entropy associated to the feasible product configurations with the entropy associated to the unfeasible product configurations. Computational experiments performed on two case applications show that the proposed method can be effectively used to quantify variety-induced complexity and to assist product managers to choose optimal product variety.

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