Recently I got a mail from MixMyGranola, inviting me to cover their mass customization company. And I found a nice story: While in general German internet businesses copy US pioneers, here the international idea transfer has worked the other way round.
MixMyGranola offers (as you would have guessed) customized granola online – customers can choose from more than 60 different ingredients to design their individual granola on their website. Started by Andreas Germann, Matt Pawlik and Raoul Duggal from a Miami warehouse in 2008, the site, however, looks to me like a simple copy of the German mass customization pioneer MyMuesli -- up to the package design. No wonder, co-founder Andreas Bergmann is a German who has been active in the German internet business before and apparently brought idea to the US. As quoted in a newspaper article:
"Andreas explains that the notion of selling personalized cereals online is "already a proven business in Europe", although with a different cereal. "We don’t have much granola over there ..."As on MyMuesli, you can custom-make your own cereal in the site. Matching the sweeter taste of the US consumer, the site focuses on granola, and not muesli.
There was one really interesting feature on the site, demonstrating the power of mass customization executed correctly: As many others, MixMyGranola offered pre-configured mixes, called Pre-Mixes
This not just reduces the complexity for the user (there is, however, no opportunity to take the pre-mix as an starting configuration and make changes to it, which I believe is a major shortcoming, as all marketing research on mass customization configuration behavior demonstrates). but also offers the company two further opportunities:
- Cross-marketing with other brands like a gym brand or celebrities, but also non-profits on "special mixes"
- Fast reaction on recent events. There is not just the Christmas etc mix, but just two days after the disastrous earth-quake in Haiti, the company already had a "Help Haiti" mix, donating $5 per package sold ($9.9 retail) to the Haitian earthquake victims. Great idea (and great coporate citizenship!)
But I predict as one of the main MC trends in 2010 the development of better configurators, with a strong emphasis on need-based configuration.
The story in the Miami Herald has some more interesting details:
"The business was funded by Matt Pawlik and two partners who each invested $50,000. Each owns a third of the company. Pawlik brought with him a financial background, graduating from New York University and spending time working on Wall Street before taking on the risk, but it was the Internet skills by Andreas Bergmann, 35, also a partner, that really helped lower the overhead. The third partner, Raoul, 35, handles legal issues for the young company.Context:
According to Pawlik, the granola market averages about $400 million in sales per year. ''We are hoping to catch a piece of that market share,'' Pawlik said. ''If we can get 5 to 10 percent of that, we will have a nice niche business,'' he said. The cost of one container of granola or a mix is about $7 to $11, so the target audience is on the upper end, but the premixes being offered will broaden the audience base and reach customers who may not want to spend that much. The daily operations are fueled out of a small warehouse off of Northeast Second Avenue and 72nd Street in Miami."