Working definition pure customization

Mass customization is a term which is often used in literature, basically referred to as mass production of customized goods. It seems there is no commonly accepted definition for the term. This gap was also identified by Kaplan and Haenlein (2006), and they try to close it by presenting a definition of traditional mass customization, and use that definition to define mass customization for electronic mass customization. Because during this research customization is supposed to be measured, the definition of electronic mass customization can be used to express what is being measured without any misconceptions.

Based on three findings, a definition of traditional mass customization was defined (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2006). First, mass customization should be applied to products only, second, mass customization should only be used to describe company–customer interaction at the operations level of the value chain and finally, mass-customized products should have production cost and monetary price similar or only slightly higher than those of mass-produced goods. Earlier, Tseng and Piller (2003) used somewhat comparable levels of mass customization by defining a differentiation level for customized products or services, a cost level like mass production efficiency and a relationship level to increase customer loyalty. Kaplan and Haenlein (2006) argue that customization can only be practiced at the product and not the service. Their definition is as follows: “Mass customization is a strategy that creates value by some form of company–customer interaction at the fabrication/assembly stage of the operations level to create customized products with production cost and monetary price similar to those of mass-produced products.? Kaplan and Haenlein (2006) use the dimensions product, player and process which can all be physical or digital identified by Choi et al. (1997) to define pure electronic mass customization.

Loebbecke (1999) argued however that the dimensions of Choi et al. (1997) cannot be used for a pure intangible product which is the case for this research. Loebbecke (1999) proposes just as Choi et al. (1997) that a product can be either physical or digital, but the player or the consumer is always physical. Loebbecke (1999) instead uses a characteristic of information products as a new dimension, and introduces bundled or unbundled value. The process dimension is kept but reformulated as off-line and on-line. The definition of pure customization in this research is based on the definition of Kaplan and Haenlein (2006) and uses the dimensions of Loebbecke (1999) because this research focuses on pure intangible products. The above results in the following definition: “Pure customization is a strategy that creates value by some form of supplier–consumer interaction at the fabrication/assembly stage of the operations level to create customized products with production cost and monetary price similar to those of mass-produced products, where the product is digital, the process is online and unbundled content?. Pure customization within these dimensions is shown in the image below.
Pure customization

Figure: Dimensions of Electronic Mass Customization (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2006) adapted from Choi et al. (1997) and adjusted according to Loebbecke (1999).

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