After taking on Starbucks with the McCafe, McDonald’s now has its sights on Subway in hopes of taking over the growing sandwich market specifically targeting millennials (born 1978-2000). Customization is a major part of their approach to accomplishing their goal.. By offering three different sauces and grilled or crispy chicken they hope to satisfy the craving for customization that seems to be the signature feature of that generation.
At McDonald’s, according to an internal memo, “Our customers are consistently telling us, particularly millennials, they expect variety, more choices, customization and their ability to be able to personalize their food experience” and the McWrap “affords us the platform for customization and variety that our millennial customer is expecting of us.”
This is a fine example of effective customization utilizing relatively few choices for the customer. 20 choices would overwhelm or slow down the line. Here a total of just five look good: three sauces and two types of chicken. This is quick customization appropriate for a fast-food restaurant millennial-aged customers.
The NCAA basketball tournament could be an online customizers’ dream. With an unpredictable series of events and an easily identifiable target market a small-run online company can really turn the chaos into profits.
The Product: Online customizing companies can take advantage of the unpredictability of the tournament by avoiding making shirts for teams that are upset early (imagine having a large inventory of “Gonzaga 2013 Champions” shirts) as well as developing the perfect shirts for that years Cinderella story (overnight online customizers are able to sell Florida Gulf Coast University and Oregon shirts as they head into the sweet-16). If an unexpected hero arises out of a team (think Jeremy Lin’s Linsanity for the NCAA) products can be put on the market overnight capitalizing on that trend.
The Marketing: Now that you are capitalizing on the flexibility of your product, the next step is to get it in front of the right eyes. Accomplish this efficiently through Facebook’s advertising platform by targeting the alumni of the schools in the tournament who list an interest in basketball with their school. To cast a wider net, try targeting the city or even state the school is located in rather than the alumni base.
To succeed online, customizers need to take advantage of their ability to sell anywhere in the United States as well as their flexibility in production allowing new product lines to come and go at the drop of a hat. The NCAA basketball tournament is a great opportunity to use both of those strengths.
Dell is a poster child for the importance of customization in the modern marketplace. No book on customization is complete without a nod to the PC giant who used that model to grow from a dorm room to a market capitalization of $107 billion in 1999.
If CIY customization is the model of the future, why did Dell plummet to its current market cap of 24 billion while Apple, with its extremely standardized computers, rose from a market cap of $9 billion in 1999 to $399 billion in 2012. Clearly an explanation is in order.
The explanation: As technology became better and more reliable, software components became the customization demanded in the marketplace. Once standardized computers developed that were able to fill almost everyone’s purposes, the need for customization of hardware dropped significantly. Desktop PCs have become a low profit commodity item. Consequently, customized hardware demand was replaced with customized software demand which Apple, with its extremely standardized hardware but highly customizable software via its app store, was able to excel in supplying. It is as if Dell was making custom fabric for pants, then denim was created, and subsequently Apple came in and started making custom fitted pants made only out of denim.
Dell, being solely a hardware provider, suddenly found itself applying mass customization to what had recently become a low profit commodity which, from our vantage point will seldom work.
If you read the Custom Nation Blog you are probably aware of how much I love everything the people at Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED for short) produce and have done for spreading ideas to everyone. That is why I am so excited to help spread an amazing idea produced by TED. TED has launched a customized learning platform called TED-Ed that allows teachers to connect with animators to make amazing video lessons that can be then customized by another teacher to fit a particular class or student. As if that was not enough, this platform also has the ability to turn any video on YouTube into a customized lesson complete with class specific instructions and questions a teacher can link to the video. With this new development customization has made a giant leap into the classroom. To learn more visit their website Ed.TED.com
One major problem all customizers have is obtaining what the customer wants without bogging them down with too many choices and ultimately scaring them away. (See paradox of choice). One solution may be skipping asking the customer and going directly to their brain. Neuromarketing is currently being used as a great market research tool by companies like CBS, Citi, Scotttrade, and Microsoft through a company called NeuroFocus.
According to the President and CEO of NeuroFocus (http://www.neurofocus.com), Dr. A.K. Pradeep, we are not far off from a world where people will have EEGs in their homes monitoring brainwaves and entertainment being customized instantly based on the thoughts and emotions of the user. Imagine a world where the characters you love in a show appear more and the ones you don’t seem to disappear. Unfortunately this probably will not help your favorite sports team win, but you may find the halftime show more fun.
Headphones you can customize have obvious appeal: as a style statement, there are few things more on display than your ears. As a result, dozens of stylish companies, including Skullcandy, Sol Republic and CustomBuds have long allowed customers to customize their headphones with their own color schemes and designs.
But – despite the activity already in the custom headphone space — I’m excited about the promising upcoming launch of a newcomer: Elroy. The new company, which is currently fundraising on Kickstarter (the goal is to raise $150,000), has been launched by a veteran of mass customization, Rob Honeycutt, who founded custom messenger bag company Timbuk2 out of San Francisco in the early 2000’s.
Since selling Timbuk2 in 2005, Honeycutt has been looking for a new custom venture, and this time he’s bringing his mass customization expertise to headphones. Honeycutt’s new Elroy headphones promise to be innovative in a few important ways. First, Elroy will allow consumers to customize their earbud docks (which clip to the users’ collars) with photos and images, not just colors and designs. And, secondly, Elroy headphones will all be produced where the target consumer market is: right here in the United States.
“We’re going to be doing something specific that can’t be done in Asia,” Honeycutt said in a Jan 2 press release announcing the new venture. “While companies, like Nike, do customization from offshore facilities, ultimately most of the impact of building something yourself online is lost when you have to wait weeks for delivery. The real excitement is when you build it and get it within a day or two.”
In “Custom Nation,” I discuss the benefits of the “Made in America” label for customizers at length, and it’s great to see another company jumping on it.
In the run-up to every New Year’s, IBM releases a “5 in 5” list – five technology predictions its scientists think will become reality in the next five years. This new year’s crop is all about a near-future where computers are able to get more in touch with the five human senses: touch, vision, hearing, smell and – my personal favorite – taste.
IBM’s futurists predict that within five years, we’ll have computers capable of developing “digital taste buds” that will allow these laptop beacons of artificial intelligence to create delicious new recipes customized to our very own individual taste preferences and dietary restrictions (or dietary fantasies).
These computers will track what foods you eat, what foods you enjoy, and the number of calories/fat/etc you aspire to eat diet-wise and ‘learn’ to create recipes that appeal – on a molecular level – to exactly your own personal requirements. A great article on Fast Company, featuring an interview with Bernie Meyerson, IBM’s VP of Innovation details exactly what this could mean in practice. Excerpts:
At the end of the day, taste is about chemistry. The nose is an extraordinarily sensitive chemical sensor, says Meyerson. A computing system currently being developed by IBM can break down food to the molecular level, using today’s knowledge about flavour and smell combinations that people enjoy to create entirely new – sometimes weird – recipes… [Like] pairing roasted chestnuts with cooked beetroot, caviar, or dry-cured ham.
The computer could theoretically go even further than that, customizing foods for individual preferences. Meyerson explains: “You can tell the computer over course of a year, give it a thumbs up or thumbs down with each thing you eat. You collect all that data, and the computer can continuously run an analysis and look for common threads from the chemical makeup of what’s pleasurable [to you].” Then, Meyerson says, the computer could optimize food within the bounds of what’s healthy… “We have the modern technology for sensors required to carry this off,” he says.
IBM’s previous “5 in 5” predictions have a scattered success rate. But if this one proves to be even a little true, it could revolutionize our cookbooks by imbuing them with a level of customization that – to date — has only been possible to attain for the super-rich, who can afford highly paid dieticians in their gyms and personal chefs in their kitchens.
MakerBot® unveiled its newest desktop 3D printer at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week!
I’m delighted to announce that the audio edition (aka ‘book on tape’ version) of Custom Nation has just been released! As I’m in the habit of ‘reading’ while driving (via audio books), I’m thrilled that my own book is now available this way too. Audible.com, one of the big ‘books-on-tape’ producers, worked with my publisher to create the audio book and — while I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was a little surprised that I didn’t get to play the voice of ‘me’ in the recording — the actor who does it has done an excellent job (I think he might even sound more like me than I do!). So, if you’re anything like me, and enjoy reading books from behind a steering wheel, now’s your chance to consume Custom Nation without getting into a car accident.
It’s January 7th and New Year’s Resolutions are in full swing. As ever, topping every chart for the most common resolution of 2013 is some version of “Get Fit.” This rampant resolution came in first on Polycimic’s “Top Ten” list, and, in Marie Claire magazine’s recent readers poll, more than 50 percent said that “losing weight and getting fit” was their resolution – the next most popular resolution (saving money/getting out of debt) got a comparatively paltry 15 percent of the vote.
Of course, this is where customization comes in. The hottest idea in exercise and dieting right now is personalization. Gyms boast personal trainers to customize workout routines to individual clients and help sculpt the perfect body for each person. In that vein, this new year’s one of the hottest trends in exercise-centric gaming and workout iPhone apps are all about automating the process of custom workouts, so even ‘resolvers’ without the deep pockets necessary to fund personal training sessions can reap the rewards. A great USA Today article by tech writer Marc Salzman reveals some of the hottest of these new fitness-themed games, gadgets and apps… Here are some of his top picks:
Designed for Nintendo’s new Wii U system, Ubisoft’s “Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013” includes 125 workouts and 215 moves to master. Alternatively, you can create a personalized four-week exercise program.
Another game, Nintendo’s Wii Fit U works with the Wii Balance Board, Wii U GamePad and the small Fit Meter, which tracks your daily activity. Tackle more than 20 activities, including yoga and strength exercises.
Striiv Play is a tiny but smart pedometer that not only counts steps, stairs and calories burned, but when paired wirelessly with a free iPhone app, it lets you spend earned gold to use in a fantasy game. To earn gold and points, you’ll complete daily missions. And you can track your progress on the app or via a personal computer.
iFitness Pro is a full-featured workout companion that includes hundreds of exercises to master, each with clear text instructions, illustrations, photos and videos. Exercises are divided by body region, primary target areas and equipment needed.
Add your own exercise or create a custom routine in the “My Workouts” area, add photos and notes, and then share your exercise with others.
Another app to help you in 2013 is Lose It! Set a goal for yourself and the program will calculate what should be your caloric intake each day. Pull out your smartphone at meals and snacks to type in what you’re consuming. The app will calculate the calories for you. It also can calculate your fat, sodium and sugar intake.