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Mass Marketing/Mass Customization

Today, marketing is seeing a shift from the traditional mass marketing techniques towards marketing campaigns tailored to individual consumer groups. The direct offspring of mass marketing is the trend towards mass customization that is focused on customizing a product on a large scale. Despite the move towards micro-marketing, companies can still see an advantage in mass marketing.

First of all, marketers still have to meet the challenge to create a campaign that will bring adequate ROI (return on investment). Quite often, marketing professionals see that they "need to use the same metrics as the finance department to show their cost is producing a return" ("Mass Marketing Comes Unplugged", 2005). As the corporations are supposed to create value for shareholders, they have to be attentive towards costs they incur in the process of production and distribution of their goods. In this sense, mass marketing has an advantage over targeted micromarketing since it allows one to cover a broader audience in less time. For instance, a campaign placed in mass media can reach more consumers in less time than several different approaches targeting different consumer groups. The company can save money on ad production as the same ad can be placed in many different media.

Another possible advantage of mass marketing apart from the cost is the opportunity to cover all potential consumers. It is possible that the company makes mistakes in identifying groups that it will target. For instance, the car manufacturer can produce a car that is aimed, in their opinion, at young people. However, the older generation can also buy this model, and with mass marketing the company can reach those consumers as well, trying their chance with all population groups.

At the same time, the golden days of mass marketing are probably gone. The audience for marketing campaigns has become much more diverse than in the past, and people are increasingly focused on a product that will make them special, separate them from the rest of the crowd. Now, in the marketers' view, "the mainstreaming of affluence and a more self-indulgent culture lends itself to micro-marketing" ("Mass Marketing Comes Unplugged", 2005). Many people have become more affluent and they want more special things, more specifically focused messages that will explain to them why they should buy a particular product or brand. Even companies like Procter & Gamble and McDonalds that have classical mass products are reinventing their marketing campaigns, making them more targeted at individual consumers.

The choice of mass marketing or targeted marketing depends on the culture value system. If the market, for instance, embraces a number of different groups, targeting these groups separately may be the best strategy. The simplest example is a community that has a few large immigrant groups that have backgrounds in different values systems, and as a result have to be targeted on an individual basis.

One of the possible answers to the challenge of catering to a diverse consumer body is mass customization. With mass customization, you as a consumer can "indicate your specific preferences per part for all sorts of products, upon which the manufacturer can exactly produce the product you want to have" (Dellaert 2005). Mass customization, like mass marketing, has advantages and disadvantages.

The most attractive thing about it is that it does not result in higher cost to the producer than mass marketing. In addition, this strategy often allows the companies to reduce their amount of stock and to opt for slimmer inventories. They can also better serve the needs of the customers in this way. Consumers undoubtedly get an advantage with mass customization: they no longer have to take what is offered to them. Instead, they can manipulate the quality and price of the product and see to it that it meets their individual requirements. Consumers in this way get power over the creation of the product. This more active role can be appealing to many consumers.

However, there is also a downside: the risk that "the customer becomes overwhelmed by the many options and is not capable to obtain the desired product" (Dellaert 2005). The need to make choices is often frustrating to consumers since they have so many decisions to make in their workplace, for instance. Companies can make it easier for their clients if they show them a single piece at the end of the customization process, accompanied with a single price. If consumers have to sift through prices for many items, they may find it time-consuming and frustrating.

A famous example of mass customization is Dell that allows customers to choose characteristics of computers they are purchasing on their website. Another example is clothing producer Lands End that added an option to its website where a customer can create an individual image on the screen and see how a piece of clothing would fit this individual. The feature is called 'My virtual model' and includes one's sizes, the colour of the hair, and other features.

Mass customization should also resonate with the value system accepted in the market. Thus, people should not be passive, hasty consumers who only want to shop in order to get this household chore done. Mass customization calls for active individuals who want to shape their consumption in their personal way, so as to match their diverse lifestyles. It makes sense in the market in which a person can pride oneself on owning a specific product nobody else has rather than a standard default option. The emphasis should change from being 'normal to being 'special'. People should also have a passion or at least an inclination for shopping process in order for mass customization to be effective.

Mass marketing and mass customization are two alternative strategies for marketing campaigns. Of the two, mass customization most probably has better prospects in today's diverse society. More and more companies can be expected to shift to this option that permits the delivery of individualised product at a low cost. Works Cited

Dellaert, Benedict. "Mass customization." From: 'Marketing mass-customized products: Striking a balance between utility and complexity'. Journal of Marketing Research (May 2005): 219-227. 21 Nov. 05 .

"Mass Marketing Comes Unplugged." University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business. 1 July 2005. 21 Nov. 05