Consider the following:
You are starting a new business. You have a fantastic prototype you know will turn the luxury interiors industry upside down. You negotiated an incredible manufacturing deal, NDA’s are signed, and your business is gaining momentum. The only thing you have to do now is find the perfect customer.
If you plan to use the standard manufacturing model, your options are limited to an imaginary shopper who conforms to an average set of needs.
Stop for a minute and think about what average means. An average is found by adding all the numbers in a set together, and dividing that sum by how many numbers there are. The average tells you the middle of a set, excluding data on either end of the spectrum. It is a fixed point, not a range or a group.
By definition, if you are aiming for the average, you miss all the outliers who have even the smallest difference in need. If you are developing a new product, wouldn’t you want to reach as many new customers as possible?
There is an even more exciting thought - what if you could get customers you don’t even know exist to do the creative work of designing your product for you?
According to research done by Martin Schreier at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, these invisible outliers are what make up the largest part of your target market.
In the one-size-fits-all manufacturing model a target group must be relatively homogenous. Customers are defined by a specific need, rather than a set of shared values or interests. Good customer fit for a product means there is a strong match between an individual’s needs and a product’s characteristics. Many new companies fail because they haven’t done enough market research and testing, and have poor customer fit for their product.
A classic example from the marketing world: Betty Crocker could not sell their cake mix. They thought they had solved a massive problem for their customers - to make a cake all one had to do was mix a pre-made powder and some water together.
The company could not figure out why their target audience, homemakers, wouldn’t want as few steps as possible. What they discovered in a focus group was that homemakers wanted to make less effort, but they still wanted to make some effort.
Betty Crocker figured out that if they added a step to the process - adding an egg - the person baking the cake felt like they had participated and felt a sense of ownership over the result. It was counter-intuitive, but this small change made their sales go through the roof.
The thing is, thanks to the Internet and mass-customization, there is no need to go to the trouble and expense of creating a focus group.
Customers want to tell you what they need and are doing so all the time. They feel pride when they can participate in the product creation process, and feel rewarded when they hold the result in their hands.
With mass-customization, you can give a tool to your customer that enables them to convert their ideas, preferences and tastes into products. It puts the control of the design back into the hands of the customer, and let’s them share their excitement about being an integral part of a self-rewarding process.
For this approach to maximize success, there has to be a well developed interface that provides dependable and efficient manufacturer-customer interaction. This is where MyCustomizer comes in. Talk to us today about our tool-kit and how we can connect you to the customers that want to tailor your product to meet their need.
In our next post we will look at how much choice is too much, and just how much more are customers willing to pay when given the right amount of control?