Friday, March 20, 2009

I'm liking the vernal equinox. But could we add a bit more magenta to mine?

Sarah Clemence, writing in Portfolio this week, asks, "What happens when you can design your physical world as easily as you can reformat your blog?" The answer, of course, is that we will soon be trained to expect a "mine" button customization option on every purchase.

Clemence closes out the piece with a quote from Joe Pine, author of the seminal book Mass Customization. “There’s been a huge trend toward commoditization, where consumers don’t care about the product, they don’t care who makes it, they don’t care about the brand,” he says. “They care about three things: price, price, and price. That’s Walmart’s raison d’etre.”

In that kind of market, companies are turning to user customization to distinguish themselves. When Stan Davis coined the term “mass customization” in 1987, it was an oxymoron, Pine says. “When I wrote my book, I said in the subtitle that it was the new frontier. It went from oxymoron to new frontier to today, when it’s an imperative.”

The next iteration of brand co-authorship/co-creation, with power continuing to shift to consumer. The product is a co-created expression of the brand values; but the brand is ultimately curated by the consumer. Will yours be the invited manufacturing partner? Does your branding partner trust you to deliver? Great stuff.

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