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« User Manufacturing and Crowdsourcing in New Zealand: How Ponoko enables creative users to create, manufacture, and sell digital products online | Main | Assignment Zero Interview on Mass Customization, Crowdsourcing, and the Demand for Change Management »

June 09, 2007


Frank Piller

Great comments and thoughts. Thanks, Christian! And I agree that the toolkit perhaps is not the largest help in its recent state for the individual customer who wants to design her/his Mini roof (I agree: If I really would like to have a cool roof design, I would use a different, more professional graphics program). But as mass customization here again is just used as a tool of interactive marketing, boosting PR and talk about the car, it seems to be a necessary part of the web sit experience.

Christian M. Waller

Some additional thoughts that came to my mind:

Is there really a need for a specific MINI graphic toolkit ?
Since nowadays nearly every WINDOWS or MAC user is creating and designing own grafics or photos, like for birthday cards, party invitations or online communities, at least with already preinstalled small programs or with buy to go professional solutions, I wonder why customers might need an extra graphic-tool in a brands website for a individual MINI roof-design ? Some might say that it is a strategic part of the brands “innovative” presentation others will argue it has to be in order to define the provided solution space. Overall it seems more or less an expensive marketing gadget, especially since a folio for a MINI roof could be generally printed on with all kinds of digital creations and might provide a much better usability and design, when the customer are allowed to use their own graphic tools. Combined with some templates of the roofs shape, provided as download, everybody could create offline and upload an individual graphic over a common interface. It realy is a pitty that most of the companies do not provide 3D-configuration for their cars anyway, then it would be even more easy to evidently mount the grafics in realtime on every potential position on the cars surface just by upload and clicking. This indeed is a wider view on relevant customer centric solutions, but wouldn`t that be usefull and easy ? Surely it would ! and additional contests or other user events could merge customers even stronger and long lasting.

Christian M. Waller

Thanks again for the Link to this exemplary case. Like already written MINI claims to be one of the most individual carbrands nowadays, missing out the fact, that the range of individual customer choice is not necessarily wider than in other cases and that the corevalues behind the brands exclusive proposition, have already been shaped in the customers perception some decades ago. In contrast to transformation of MINI by BMW which turned this car into a strictly lifestyle brand with high focus on single, urban, female customers an their potential upselling demands, it has once been one of the first cheap compact cars for everyday purpose, ready to be individualised on own hands even with small money. This is mostly why it became such a big success, guided by special driving characteristics and of course many triumphs in different racing series that turned the MINI over the years into a Myth with wide acceptance, even though it remained a niche model. Today the MINI is indeed a completely different car with a wide potential for customizing and most of us will agree that some part of its heritage can be expressed very well individually by letting the customer design the roof in a much wider variety than a classical union-jack or a racing flag. Nevertheless, experiencing the new tool on the website I have to mark, that this design interface again - like in so many cases - is not set up like an integrated toolkit, helping the customer to create and decide. It stays for single purpose only underestimating the complexity of creating an individual cardesign. Even though it will only be a folio in the end that is glued on the roof and dependent on the quality it will have, it might also be a big hurdle when reselling. Overall individually designing the surface of products by toolkit or upload of photos is not a new technique since you can find similar offers from kitchen furniture to credit cards. Again, hung up between CRM and marketing efforts this toolkit by MINI is just another gadget that does not provide additional value to the customer and shows how much experience is still needed to build up interactive competences in many companies. And yes, I agree. The creation of car designs might be even a better basis for an external business. MINI does not manufacture the folios themselves anyway I guess. Kind regards from Berlin, Christian

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