Knowledge Repository


Document details


Seasons of Mass Customization, Winter or Spring


Tseng, M. M., Yue Wang and Chenjie Wang

Uploaded by

Yue Wang on 7/22/2013




Academic Papers


No specific industry

Content Focus

Customer related


mass customization, personalization, customer preferences


This paper is written to discuss the future of mass customization as a manufacturing technique by examining the development in the past three decades. Will mass customization become a mainstream production strategy? Or will it be just another hype fading away? There were 72 reviewed academic papers on this topic between 1991 and 2001, but the number doubled in the next decade (Folliatto 2012). However, it will be too simplistic to draw the conclusion based on the intensity of academic research. Along the same vein, we can also see some companies that started the mass customization practices have failed to attract the customers, withdrew and faded away. In the meantime, some young companies continue to find new ways to succeed by offering customer unique products through mass customization. One example is a US company, CafePress, which leverages mass customization in T-shirt as the main product and becomes a listed public company. It is hard to say it is the spring or winter of mass customization, because it depends on our answer to the question: how to adapt the strategy proposed decades ago for current new fast-moving trend in such a social networking era. For example, an early example of mass customization application is computer configuration. The hardware configuration propagates through industry with different implication with differentiation of PC and hand held devices. But nowadays, the configuration in handheld devices has been shifted to software. Mass customization as Dell’s computer customization became no longer effective in current market. In the meantime, a large number of promising business models leverage the fundamental concept of mass customization to better satisfy consumer’s needs in self-identity expression and other more experience related needs through customized products. Mass customization is not an only strategy to manufacture unique products to differentiate from competitors’, but also a business model of offering more value in helping consumers differentiate themselves through using the customized product. Fortunately, a number of young companies have become driving forces of innovation with new approaches. With the maturity of advanced manufacturing technology, such as 3D printer and internet communication systems, especially the increasing proliferation of internet of the things, we can predict there will be significantly more innovative business models based on mass customization in the near future. From this perspective, we may predict that: it will be a spring for the next generation of mass customization!



KDI/EWC series on Economic Policy, Edward Elgar Publications (accepted)