Omni-CPG, an expert in product and brand development, says that mass-customization of consumer products continues to grow. “It started with monogrammed belts and bags from Land’s End and LL Bean, but now there is a new level of customization via the Internet that is spawning more efficient manufacturing from Build-a-Bear to NIKEiD,” he says. “The consumer can select a unique mix of options and personalize the product, adding a layer of design for their own unique product, such as with SkinIt.”
Omni-CPG likes the world of 3D printing as it relates to mass customization. “The technology, until recently, has been limited to prototyping of component parts and consumer packaging for designers and companies. This is prior to them making a huge investment in manufacturing millions of the item,” he says. “Yet, companies including Shapeways and Ultimaker are making the machines, with cost, processes, and materials that are accessible to the individual. With Shapeways, I can take a cool design idea that I have for piece of silver jewelry, a ceramic votive candle holder, or resin napkin ring and have just one of those produced at a reasonable cost and shipped to me, or I can make it at home. Ultimaker allows me to buy and assemble my own 3D printer and make stuff in my home or shop to keep, give, or sell, although only in a limited number of nylon/plastic resins.” Omni-CPG says that as the technology expands there will be an opportunity to engage the consumer in the mass-customization of brands on an entirely new level, adding exceptional value to the brand by increased intimacy with the consumer/designer/co-maker.
Rahr He, an expert in software product marketing, outlines what’s in and what’s out for 2013:
- In: 3D printers. “The total cost of ownership of 3D printers is decreasing, making consumer-based 3D printing affordable for those without an unlimited budget. Consumers are able to download 3D models and print products in their home,” He says.
- In: Smart TVs. “Although they are by no means a new idea, smart TVs are gaining some much deserved traction in the consumer market. A combination of quality applications and discounted pricing has many running to the store or clicking the cart,” says He.
- Out: Traditional tablets. He says that while traditional tablets such as the iPad are on the boom, they are about to bust. “Variations of the traditional tablet such as the Ultrabook convertible (transformable to tablet, running Windows 8) offer superior functionality without having to carry two devices to get your work done,” he says.
- Out: The traditional point and shoot cameras. “It seem like old news, but not to point and shoot manufacturers. Despite the Samsung Galaxy camera being released, the point and shoot camera is ready to be buried. They held on to features until the last second, such as panoramic mode, but this is no longer. Hey, isn’t there an app for that?” he says.
- Up and coming: mobile handsets with projection capabilities. He says that the modern mobile handset is merely steps away from adopting LED projector capabilities with laser-projected keyboards: set your mobile handset on a flat desk and have a traditional PC environment virtualized in front of your very eyes.
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