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Mass Customization Monday #27

As orange clad shotgun wielding hunters stalking for deer we have snuck and marched our way around the internets looking for the most relevant mass customization news for this week. 

Blend Your Own Johnnie Walker 

Diageo’s Johnnie Walker brand, one of the most valuable drinks brands in the world is undergoing extensive experiments with letting people blend their own scotch. Johnnie Walker fans can use an online blend tool to customize a blend as well as personalize bottles. The company has taken to Indiegogo to offer people a chance to personalize their scotch.

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When we drink scotch of champagne are we looking for our own unique taste? Will we all mass customize our own drinks in the future? Or do we all like to share and believe in Red Label or similar perennials? It is clear that people will pay for super premium drinks. But how to best let someone decide their own unique blend? Would you love to treat your guests to a unique cognac made just for you? This is an interesting experiment by the Johnnie Walker team. It is also notable that the company went the Indiegogo route to try this out rather than opt for a more mass market campaign. Indiegogo and Kickstarter can be inexpensive and quick ways for companies to try niche products and new initiatives.

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Customized Football Helmets

US company Riddell is experimenting with customized football helmets. American football helmets have long been constrained by not offering everyone an optimal fit. The helmets are only available in a few standard sizes. Recent research has pointed to high instances of long term brain damage possibly resulting from long term American football head injuries. Reebok pioneered research a few years ago by making custom 3D printed helmets to reduce such brain injuries. Now Riddell is offering a helmet that is customized for the user. An athlete first has 3D scans of their head made. Based on these 3D prints are made and these are then used for molds for the inserts. The Speed Flex helmets with the Precision-Fit inserts cost $1750 for the 3D scan and $1200 for the helmet.

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Much experimentation has been done with many types of helmet mass customization. It would seem like a fairly simple idea and implementation. Regulatory issues are usually an issue for 3D printed and customized safety gear. In some cases for example a law or regulation may stipulate that each model of helmet should be tested a 120 times for example. What does this mean for a vendor that offers almost infinite variants? By keeping the helmet in the standard sizes while varying the inserts Riddell seems to have come up with a partial solution at least on the football field. Many other types of helmets and safety gear would not be able to be compliant in this way however. Safety gear is one very large possible application area for 3D printing that has barely been explored yet. We would expect much mass customization activity emerge in strongly regulated areas such as safety and medical gear in the coming years. Whereas many companies are looking to general consumer applications for mass customization, medical and safety gear can provide long term opportunities with high margins. We would advise new market entrants to take a long hard look at the business opportunities in (semi) regulated industries where true utility is derived from mass customization and where long term barriers to entry and margins can be preserved.

Custom Tennis Rackets by Wilson

We’ve mentioned several times before that custom handles and sports gear are emerging areas of mass customization where we see a lot of potential. Sports equipment company Wilson is now offering mass customized tennis racquets with their Custom Racquet Shop. The Custom Racquet Shop offers the possibility to esthetically customize the tennis racquets. The colors and logos of the tennis racquet can be customized and a monogram can be added. The racquets start at a premium of about $50 per racquet for custom options.

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Some racquets can only be personalized while others have much more extensive customization options.

This involvement by a large sporting goods brand in customization is to be applauded. We would however be even more excited if one could customized the grips and handling of the racquets. If 3D printed or CNC customized grips could be made then racquets would be truly individual. Also a method whereby a shape or performance of a tennis racquet would be completely customized as per your performance needs would be a huge step forward also.

Function of Beauty Receives Additional Investment 

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Does your hair have goals?

Function of Beauty is a personalized beauty start up that has recently received more funding, to the tune of $9 million. The company at the moment offers a quiz based mass customization of shampoo and conditioner. After taking a short quiz you can customize the color of your shampoo as well as the fragrance. The hair quiz asks you to select five hair goals as well as build your hair profile and select your fragrance.

 

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What type and structure is your hair?

We really do believe that mass customization will have significant impacts on the beauty industry. It is still unclear to what extent an internet quiz can help a consumer customize the right shampoo for them. The company that manages a light weight easy and accurate customization process in beauty well will stand to gain a lot from that.

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