Manufacturers of consumer products are facing a dilemma in 2033: they have the technology to make almost anything on demand, but they don’t know what their customers want.
Despite the tremendous technological advances in additive manufacturing in the 2020’s that allowed them to blend different materials and create complex shapes using 3D printers, most customers still prefer to buy standardized and mass-produced products.
According to a recent survey by the CustomMade Alliance (CMA), a group of manufacturers that promote customization of consumer products, only 15% of customers said they would order a customized product online or in-store, while 85% said they would choose a ready-made product from a catalog or a shelf. The main reasons for this preference were convenience, price, and trust.
“Customers are used to buying products that are already made and available. They don’t want to spend time and effort designing their own products, or waiting for them to be delivered. They also worry about the quality and reliability of customized products, and whether they will match their expectations,” said CMA spokesperson Lisa Chen.
Chen added that manufacturers are reluctant to go back to traditional mass manufacturing due to the flexibility and risk reduction that additive manufacturing offers. “With additive manufacturing, we can produce products on demand, without having to keep large inventories or deal with excess or obsolete stock. We can also respond quickly to changing customer needs and preferences, and offer more variety and personalization,” she said.
To overcome this challenge, CMA has launched a campaign to educate and encourage customers to try customized products. The campaign includes online and offline advertisements, social media influencers, product reviews, testimonials, and incentives. CMA also provides tools and guidance for customers to design their own products, such as templates, tutorials, samples, and feedback.
“We believe that customized products are the future of consumerism. They offer more value, satisfaction, and uniqueness to customers, as well as more sustainability and innovation to manufacturers. We hope that our campaign will help customers discover the benefits and possibilities of customization, and inspire them to create their own products,” Chen said.
Will you order customized products the next time you’re shopping for something?