Fight depletion, start with the solution

In order for a company to get new customers or keep their current customers loyal to their company they to contribute to the satisfaction of the customer with their products and services. By enabling customers to customize their products, customers will come up with final products close to their preferences, which satisfies them.

Companies can offer multiple customization possibilities. These possibilities differ in sequence of customization (Levav et al., 2010) as well as the product customization format. Hildebrand, Häubl and Herrmann (2014) argue that customizing via starting solutions is a more beneficial format for both the company and the customer in comparison with customization via defaults or option framing.

The starting solution consist of a set of prespecified products and the customer will be able to add or eliminate attributes after choosing a start solution. By offering the customer already initially a solution he will be able to mentally simulate how it functions and will have reduced complexity in his customization process since the customization process only consists of two steps. The studies performed in this paper show that these two advantages increase the satisfaction of the customer in different context.

Despite the benefits, customers are overall less convinced to customize using a format with a starting solution in comparison with other formats. In order to inform the customer better on the benefits companies should accentuate the possibility to mentally simulate and reduce complexity in their marketing. By visualizing the process of how this can be accomplished, customers will start enjoying the process of self-designing, see that the process can aligns their preferences with the final product and gain understanding of the perceived value created by their effort. Franke and Schreider (2010) argue that these aspects are important to value self-designed products.

Next to accentuating the ability to better process the information (mental simulation) the company should consider, according to Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion of Petty and Cacioppo (1986), also the motivation (involvement and relevance) of the customer to process the information in marketing the customization format.

To optimize the customization format data analysis should be performed on the starting solutions in order to update starting solutions to trends and find the sweet spot of starting solutions. For example, when doing research in the apparel industry the sweet spot of starting solutions might be tested for different seasons. Hereby the customer’s satisfaction and thus the process of the company and customer co-create value might be realized on the long-term.



– Franke, N. and Schreier, M. (2010). Why Customers Value Self‐Designed Products: The Importance of Process Effort and Enjoyment. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 27(7), 1020-1031

– Levav, J., Heitmann, M., Herrmann, A., & Iyengar, S. S. (2010). Order in product customization decisions: Evidence from field experiments. Journal of Political Economy, 118(2), 274-299

– Hildebrand, C., Häubl, G., & Herrmann, A. (2014). Product Customization via Starting Solutions. Journal of Marketing Research, 51(6), 707-725

– Petty, R.E. and Cacioppo, J.T. (1986). The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 19

– 123RF. Available:–man-person-with-pieces-of-puzzle-and-word-solution.html. Last accessed: 12 February 2016

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