(Update of posting from April 30). Whenever I am asked what the next big trend in customization is, one of my answers always is food. And one example that I am always referring to is custom cereal. While the cereal shelf space is pretty impressive in many supermarkets, there still is demand for more choice.
Consider food allergies in line with personal taste preferences, and add the wellness and functional food trend – as a result, you easily find many reasons why we want custom cereal. But to get custom cereal -- or any other custom food item -- we had to go the conventional way of craft customization, i.e. prepare our food from basic ingredients from the scratch.
Or select the artificial option: Nutrition supplements have been available in custom varieties since years. But now, one of my basic foot items can be conveniently mass customized, too: Muesli.
I just placed my order for a custom box of muesli. No raisins, but plenty of mango and apricots. No hazelnuts, but cashews and pine. And some magic Alfalfa (what ever this is, but is seems to be good). By doing so, I stepped into the typical MC consumer trap: Motivated by a cheap basic price and rather small additional premiums for additional items, I ended up with a Muesli that will cost about 4 times more per pound compared to my standard organic muesli mix. But it is custom, comes in a nice box, and has my name on it. So who cares?!
Today, three business school graduates from Germany have launched Mymuesli (of course in beta). Max Wittrock, Hubertus Bessau and Philipp Kraiss offer customers on their rather simple site a simple, but working configurator to create complex custom mixes from more than 75 ingredients. While the site is not the latest in web design, I like the idea – and I am curious to see how the site develops!
Update: After about two weeks, I got my custom muesli mix. It was packed in a special tube box (which, however, did not survive the treatment in the German postal service). The muesli is great, really delicious mix, very good ingredients. But I am not sure yet f it is worth the high premium compared to my regular stuff.
And I am curious to see how the company follows up. In the end, custom food items are a perfect example for building loyal customers:
- Get your first order.
- Provide feedback if you like the customization (in my case, I would add more apricots, as they are so delicious).
- Send a reminder after the average consumption period for a reorder of the modified mix.
- If a customer reacts, this process will result in a subscription cycle of the custom good: I will never run out of muesli, and MyMuesli never will loose me as their customer. This a least is the theory.
After I posted about MyMuesli in the original posting here in this blog on April 30, several other reports on MyMuesli have been published. A good comment comes from Rad Tollett:
I think this web-based system of customizing the ingredients of food will have profound effects on major brands in the next twenty years. If the system is in place to customize cereal there is no reason why I, as a consumer, cannot go to a major soda manufacturer and ask for the same levels of control. The only thing preventing me is the fear inside the walls of major soda manufactuerers. The question they likely have but fear to ask is what would happen to Coke if it were opened? Would people choose the special sauce over making their own? Cane or corn? Heavy or light carbonation? More prune or less? Vanilla, cherry, orange, or what? What role does Coke play when I’m making “my” Coke? Scary, but freeing.
And trend-spotting Springwise knows that MyMuesli has had a great start -- and they have another great idea for using this toolkit:
Nice example of mass-customization, and one that's quickly catching on: Mymuesli started two weeks ago, but has already run out of packaging (which they'd estimated would last at least 8 weeks). ... One to adapt to local breakfast preferences? Could be a fun gimmick for hotels, too: during the booking process, let guests order their own breakfast and have it delivered to their room in a personalized box.
- In case you are able to understand German, you can read the founders' story in their blog.
- Stefan Jäger, a former Ph.D. student of my Munich group, wrote his thesis on mass customization of food. More information on his German book here.
- Here is an interview with the founders of MyMuesli.