HomeDLSU Business & Economics Reviewvol. 6 no. 1 (1994)

Product Differentiation and Mass Customization: Application, Issues and Challenges for Strategic Management

Edgardo N. Bolinao

Discipline: Business, Strategic Management



In early markets, job shops abound where many sellers designed their goods and services based on each customer's whim and caprice. Tailors made slacks and suits for the individual man and woman and cobblers custom made shoes. These craftsmen did not produce for inventory but for individual order, because they did not know beforehand what sizes or materials their customers would require. Even today, however, some people order customized products, but generally, the advent of mass production led producers to produce standard products for inventory, thus ending many job shops. But things seem to come in cycles. Today, customized marketing is coming back as part of the modern strategic marketing in the form of mass customization. Mass customization is the ability to produce on a mass basis individually designed products to meet an idea-customer's requirements. At the same time, there still exists a substantial gap between applications and what is both desirable and attainable. An examination of the marketing management literature suggests that one of the things that is needed, if the full potential of mass customization is to be realized, is a structure for dealing with issues that the practitioner must address. The purpose of this article is to bring together much of what is already known and to supply a framework that will provide guidance for the strategist in applying this knowledge to each situation and in focusing on what additional knowledge is needed.