4 Approaches to Customization – Choosing the right approach for your business 

From hammering nails into individual tools to a massive number of identical cars in a matter of minutes, the industrial revolution has brought us a long way. Mass production transformed the economy dynamic and removed the component of personalization.

There was, indeed, a time when tailor-made products were present, but as luxury goods and very time consuming for everyone.

Worth mentioning, that in the modern world, Burger King, in 1974 released a jingle that highlighted the customizable Whooper : “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us.”And in 1999, Nike introduced the concept of mass customization. Customers were able to purchase shoes through adding a personalized look in terms of comfort, color or style.

In 2022 customized products and experiences are past being a luxury, they have become a necessity.

Though the digital revolution brought more tech, choosing the best solution that works for your business can still be challenging. Understanding the difference between the approaches to customization is essential.


The 4 Approaches to Customization

Instead of taking a hit-or-miss approach, successful businesses  customize their products only where it counts.

Customization is not only about the product itself, but the identity and the message it passes to different audience segments.

One of the greatest things about this concept is that it is not only meant for giant companies, but also most appropriate for small entrepreneurs to provide for customers a unique and personalized offer, which is often difficult to achieve by the former due to their rigid manufacturing operations.

  1. Adaptiveoffers consumers a series of standard products that can be utilized differently by end-users according to their own demands and occasions. This approach provides personalization and flexibility which are extremely popular with today’s fast-paced consumers, who are always looking for something new.
  1. Function – standardized
  2. Appearance – standardized
  3. Customer input – none

Ex: Lightbulbs : consumers can adjust color and brightness, change how lights are controlled and program schedules and commands.


  1. Transparent – is a type of mass customization that does not actively involve consumers, as it relies solely on the brand’s efforts to offer unique and appropriate products to certain consumers, after observing purchasing behaviors, analyzing demands and choices and predicting preferences.
  1. Function – customized
  2. Appearance – standardized
  3. Customer input – none

Ex: Beauty product : hair and skin care products with unique formula for each customer, with identical package


  1. Cosmetic – means that an item is presented and packaged differently to adjust to consumer desires or to create a tailored and high-end experience that allows shoppers to leave their mark on the final results
  1. Function  – standardized
  2. Appearance – customized
  3. Customer input- minimal

Ex : Guerlain – The brand has implemented a 3D product configurator which makes it possible for website users to design their own perfume bottles, to choose from a range of sizes, colors and accessories, as well as to add personalized texts to the labels.


  1. Collaborative – creates a truly unique product based on customer preferences; a version of mass customization, which enables consumers to work with brands, co design products and be part of the creative process.
  1. Function – customized
  2. Appearance – customized
  3. Customer input – high

Ex: 3D Configurators for watches, industrial design 


Combining Multiple Approaches 

Each of the four customization approaches used alone challenges the mass production paradigm of offering standard products or services to all customers. Many companies, however, combine two or more approaches.

The four approaches to customization provide a framework for companies to design customized products and supporting business processes. They demonstrate the need to mix the direct interaction of collaborative customization, the embedded capabilities of adaptive customization, the forthright acknowledgment of cosmetic customization, and the careful observation of transparent customization into one’s economic offerings.



  1. https://partsolutions.com/product-configurator/
  2. https://hapticmedia.com/blog/mass-customization-definition-goal-examples/
  3. https://hbr.org/1997/01/the-four-faces-of-mass-customization
  4. https://www.ukessays.com/essays/marketing/history-and-overview-of-mass-customization-marketing-essay.php 

For more information don’t hesitate to get in touch with us .

The 3D Factory team

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