mass customisation

The Luxury of Customisation

Isaac Mostovicz writes that about why luxury customers want the same thing – an individual, customised product...

British luxury brand Burberry last year launched its Burberry Bespoke service, which will allow consumers to select a made to measure trench coat, from the choice of fabric and its colour to the style of buttons and lining. Burberry has promised this will allow over 12 million variations of design – and price.

With the rise in mass production replacing craft production as the dominant form of process in the luxury goods market, the voice of the individual consumer was limited to deciding which of the products on offer they would purchase, and not what the product should be in the first place.

The Burberry Bespoke service illustrates a new turn in production referred to as “mass customisation”. This customisation seeks to restore individuality to the design process. It achieves this through involving the consumer in choices – what colour should the product be? What additional features? What design, pattern or print? – resulting in a product which is effectively made to order.

Another example of this “mass customisation” might be Louis Vuitton’s Mon Monogram service, which allows consumers to monogram the ubiquitous design with their own initials. This also applies to clothing, where an approach that is individual led may be more favourable in terms of getting the perfect fit.

I have written before about the difference in Theta and Lambda personalitites; the Theta seeking affiliation and control, and the Lambda seeking uniqueness. Lambda types are more likely to select products based on their individual responses to it, how it helps them to stand out, and how the product benchmarks against their regular consumptive patterns. Mass customisation is likely to appeal to Lambda personalities as they navigate the luxury market, with the opportunity to mark their choices as theirs and theirs alone rather than following the crowd.

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