Andrew Kantor, a columnist for USA Today, notes that the falling price of technology has allowed mass customization and personalization to become established across a wide variety of industries.
Kantor notes that the lowering of technology costs has made personalized everyday products far more affordable that would have been the case a few years ago. He cites brands that would be well-known to readers of this website, like Zazzle, Shutterfly, Cafepress and Stamps.com.
He also notes with some surprise the extent to which technology has allowed the cost of eye glasses to fall dramatically. This type of offline customization has been used for many years by companies like Paris-Miki in Japan and Specsavers in the UK and Ireland. Andrew Kantor’s article refers to a number of brands which use the same business model in the United States.
The concept of the eyewear chain store that matches a customer’s chosen frames with made-to-order lenses, produced in-store at low cost, is one of the biggest success stories in mass customization. In fact, the everyday nature of the business may sometimes cause the eyewear sector to be overlooked in discussions about how mass customization can be implemented – something which I did myself in the recent article on customerism.
Another interesting element is that mass customization is now being described in the tabloid news sector of the U.S. media – a sure sign that the idea (and the phrase) will soon no longer have to be explained at all, just as ‘mass production’ is understood by almost everyone today.