The power of mass personalization

Mass personalization (MP) is becoming an important market trend, especially in the food industry. MP can be applied to extrinsic characteristics such as product packaging and design, as well as intrinsic elements such as recipes and ingredients.

For example, the company allows its customers to select their favorite ingredients to make their own muesli. Nestlé, meanwhile, have created a unique analysis system that consumers use to discover their « chocolate personality », after which an assortment of Maison Cailler chocolates, composed according to their personal preferences, are sent to them.

Why are so many companies interested in mass personalization?

Improve customer experience and value

Mass personalization makes it possible to personalize products according to the tastes of the customer. He can then choose his colors, his design or his favorite ingredients. This approach can lead to a form of “premiumization” of the product, where it is valued by the consumer thanks to additional attributes. These “premium” or “luxury” versions are often built through the creation of specific packaging, packaging or a limited series. Mass personalization here has a direct effect on the brand image as a whole.

Mass customization benefits businesses by providing them with cost advantages achieved through their scale of operation, with the cost per unit of production decreasing with increasing quantities produced. Companies can thus mass produce while controlling their costs: the costs associated with personalization operations must of course be taken into account, but are optimized.

Differentiate from the competition

Mass personalization requires three main actions from companies:

– Identify product attributes according to which customer needs may vary (aspects of the product that are customizable)

– Reuse or reorganize existing production (adapt production to customization)

– And finally help customers to recognize or create solutions to their own requests (create a space where customers can share their comments in order to know their needs).

These actions thus allow companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors, both in their internal organization and in their external image with customers.

Ensure fast deliveries

Mass personalization remains « superficial » for the company because the vast majority of the production chain remains unchanged: only a few elements visible to the consumer are truly customizable. For example, Coca-Cola continues to mass-produce its iconic glass bottles while simply adapting its printer to print labels personalized to customer messages, which are then stuck on the glass bottles. This change in the production line does not have a significant impact on the delivery time of the product to customers.

In conclusion

Mass personalization combines the best of two worlds: mass production which minimizes production costs, and personalization to provide customers with a unique product. The combination of these 4 advantages allows companies to “shake up” their competitors and their competitive landscape, as differentiation, economies of scale, operational speed and improved customer experience and brand image are vector for an increase in market share. Once integrated into a market, competitors often have to adapt to mass customization.

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