With the power of digital devices and social networks, consumers are becoming ever more demanding on what, how, and when they want something. Whilst having the role of critics, consumers have also become creators, requesting more personalised products and expecting to have the opportunity to form the services and products they consume. Research conducted by Deloitte shows that in various categories more than 50% of consumers have conveyed an interest in buying personalised services and products. Furthermore, consumers are willing to pay a premium if they can be involved in the process of producing the product or service. Consumers feel more strongly about their products if they are part of the production process.
In this time of rapid digital advancement, companies that do not provide an element of customisation in their offering are risking to lose customer loyalty and revenue. Nevertheless, there are many businesses where customisation works on the contrary to the dominant model of offering high-volume services and products through mass distribution suppliers. The switch from mass production to mass customisation can have costly implications, so it has to have an overall benefit in order for the business to adapt this model. The challenge is to ascertain the number of options that are imperative for a service or product to feel unique whilst still being profitable.
Mass customisation is finally at our doorstep. Businesses have acquired the capabilities to measure exactly what each consumer wants and are able to link their processes and resources to tend the wants of each individual consumer. This is now possible due to the progress attained in distribution and manufacturing technologies. For instance, 3D printing and flexible manufacturing allow mass customisation at lower costs and enables manufacturers to reconsider their supply chains entirely. Customisation pushes businesses to run a made-to-order model, which postpones production until the very last moment to allow customisation. This, in turn, will reduce inventory and conclusively increases plant efficiency.
Next to the fact that businesses need to invest into technologies to provide customisation, they also need to take into account their analytics capabilities. The increasing use of analytics means that service and product providers are improving their knowledge on what consumers want and don’t want. With this knowledge, businesses can consequently adapt their operations. Analytics tools are crucial in combining the right consumer with the right outcome.
Customisation of services and products can deliver benefits for consumers as well as for businesses. Providing mass customisation allows businesses to exhibit the value their customers receive from allowing their personal data to be stored. Simultaneously, businesses obtain more thorough insights on their customers’ behaviour. Consequently, businesses have to spend less on production and marketing as it simplifies their service and product range, creating more predictable demand. Additionally, it is simpler for consumers to understand what they are being offered whilst getting greater value for their money.
Companies that welcome customisation have the chance to provide a differentiated proposition that could invite a price premium and enhance consumer conversion and traffic. Customisation could also enhance efficiency and lower costs, and in turn, create a way to sustainable growth.