During the second class of the Consumer Channel Dynamics course, the professor gave us a few examples of companies that have begun using mass customization to add more value to their products. One of the examples he mentioned was M&M`s. It used to be that if you wanted to eat M&M`s you were restricted to eating the M&M`s with the M on it. Nowadays people can go to the My M&M’S website and personally customize the M&M`s themselves by placing pictures or words on them. When this first came to my knowledge I immediately thought to myself, why haven`t I heard of this before? That’s because I think this is a fantastic idea. It’s very hard to come up with something new these days, but reinventing an already existing product is just as hard. Some might say it’s even harder due to the risk of damaging the existing brand name.
This approach of the M&M company has many benefits. First of all, it offers new value to an already existing product which allows the M&M company to sell the products for a higher price. Second, it makes for a very interesting gift to hand over to a friend, which can increase brand awareness. Furthermore, the reason why many companies have given their customers the ability to customize their products is because it helps increase customers involvement with the product which often results in a bigger connection with the brand.
Pine II, J. (1992) described four types of mass customization; collaborative customization (otherwise known as co-creation), adaptive customization, transparent customization and cosmetic customization. The strategy implemented by My M&M’S falls under adaptive customization. Adaptive customization means that a company, in this case M&M, creates a product that is standard and then consumers are able to modify and personalize it so that it fits their needs. What I really like about this strategy is its simplicity. It doesn`t take a lot of effort or expertise to understand how the tools and mechanics on the website work and most importantly it is not that very expensive. Therefore, the threshold to actually go to the website and customize your own M&M’s is very low.
Further exploration of the website has revealed to me that there is actually also a page dedicated to companies. M&M’s are widely considered as a tasty candy treat that you eat while watching a movie. By allowing companies to customize the M&M`s, so that they can for example put their logo on it, they have opened up a new market that offers a lot of opportunities to increase sales.
I give credit where credit is due and I must say that this implementation of mass customization is very remarkable. Coming up with something new is hard, but redefining how consumers can interact with a product is absolutely no easy matter, yet M&M’s has done just that. The ironic thing is that I don`t eat M&M’s myself, however I cannot wait to surprise my friends with their own personal M&M’s.