The Choice between Uniqueness and Conformity in Mass Customization

18 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2019

See all articles by Michael A. Zaggl

Michael A. Zaggl

Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH)

Markus A. Hagenmaier

Boston Consulting Group - Austria

Christina Raasch

Kühne Logistics University (KLU)

Date Written: March 2019

Abstract

Extant research emphasizes that consumers use mass customization toolkits to create products they consider to be unique, and that perceived uniqueness is an important part of customer value. This research investigates the conditions of the customer's quest for uniqueness. It is motivated by the observation that decisions are often driven by others’ choices and a desire to fit in, rather than to be distinct. We hypothesize that consumers are more inclined to choose uniqueness for hedonic product attributes but tend toward conformity in utilitarian attributes, and that consumers’ need for uniqueness and product involvement moderate the choice. In a series of experiments, we find support for most hypotheses. We introduce conformity as a driver of choice behavior in mass customization toolkits and suggest that mass customization can best be seen as enabling consumers’ preferred mix of uniqueness and conformity. Our results also inform managerial practice, highlighting that mass customization toolkits should consider customers’ uniqueness and conformity requirements. We suggest reducing the number of utilitarian options while increasing the variety for hedonic attributes.

Suggested Citation

Zaggl, Michael A. and Hagenmaier, Markus A. and Raasch, Christina, The Choice between Uniqueness and Conformity in Mass Customization (March 2019). R&D Management, Vol. 49, Issue 2, pp. 204-221, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3343735 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/radm.12327

Michael A. Zaggl (Contact Author)

Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) ( email )

Schwarzenbergstrasse 95
Hamburg, DE Hamburg 21073
Germany

Markus A. Hagenmaier

Boston Consulting Group - Austria ( email )

Am Hof 8
Wein, 1010
Austria

Christina Raasch

Kühne Logistics University (KLU) ( email )

Großer Grasbrook 17
Hamburg, 20457
Germany

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