Personalization vs. Customization

From: Brock Hinzmann (
Date: Fri Jan 04 2002 - 03:02:01 EET

Not to start an argument about definitions, but at some level a continuum
exists between something that is decorated with your initials or personal
stamp or company logo and something that is customized to fit your body
or into a set of interfaces with other objects. The Nike example is
probably more of a personalization than a true customization. Creating dentures
to go into a specific person's mouth is more of a customization. You can
interchange personalized items and not affect the function, but you can't
interchange customized objects without affecting the function. I just made
that up, so if somebody wants to shoot holes in it, fine. For a
personalized item, Larry's rule of thumb (no more than 10 percent more in price)
seems like a fair warning. For a customized item, however, a person might be
willing to pay much more. I certainly would rather have my dentures than
George Washington's (although maybe somebody else would pay for the
novelty). Health care and medical implants is certainly an area where
customization is often worth something more than 10 percent extra.

Brock Hinzmann

Blasch, Larry wrote:
>Steven and List,
>Your experiences with customization have just add support to the
>that there's more to "engineering" a product than most people can
>It's often stated that all it takes to successfully enter the product
>is an idea and the drive to succeed.
>If that was all that was required, than the failure rate of new business
>start-ups wouldn't be so high.
>If the product that you are attempting to create in a mass customization
>scenario needs to interface with a range of options, then the entire
>set must be understood. This may require a simple algorithm or a much
>complex "smart" system since options can be interdependent as well as
>due to functional requirements.
>Simple products are already mass customized. Most everyone has a coffee
>with their company logo, mouse pads, pens, pencils, letter openers...
>the list goes on. Most of these item don't allow the customization of
>functional properties, just cosmetic features.
>Let's face it, the average consumer wants a product to perform it's
>function correctly, but starts by choosing an aesthetic design that
>interests them.
>In other words... They find something that they like aesthetically and
>try it on.
>Most consumers cannot think outside the box far enough to even start on
>aesthetic design of their own.
>If you are going to offer a product that can be customized, it's the
>functionality that would need to be customized unless you plan on making
>some kind of cultural change in how people think.
>Even if you offer the product in a clip-art style collection, with
>of variations, you will still end up selling mostly the same thing with
>few options.
>New homes are by far the most customized item sold on a mass scale, and
>are seldom ever really customized. A builder usually hands you a book of
>floor plans with a list of standard options and you go from there. Some
>people get creative and change lot's of things, adding rooms, moving
>walls... but usually the things that are customized are limited to
>standard components from a catalog. Even then you hear complaints about
>huge task of choosing from the options. (Or they hire an architect to
>a customized design because they can't do it themselves.)
>So to end my babble... Good luck in your mass customization endeavors.
>don't expect the world to beat a path to your door. In my opinion, the
>cultural change that is necessary is far too great.
>Besides, a totally customized product won't sell if it's 10% more
>than the standard item...;)
>Larry Blasch
>Lawrence R. Blasch
>Design Engineer
>CAE Systems Administrator
>OPW Fueling Components
>P.O. Box 405003
>Cincinnati, OH 45240-5003 USA
>Voice: (513) 870-3356
>Fax: (513) 870-3338
>* "Always remember you're unique,*
>* just like everyone else." *
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>Subject: RE: Mass Customization
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