Why Customers Value Mass-customized Products: The Importance of Process Effort and Enjoyment

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We test our hypotheses on 186 participants designing their own scarves with an MC toolkit. After completing the process, they submitted binding bids for "their" products in Vickrey auctions. We therefore observe real buying behavior, not merely stated intentions. We find that the subjective value of a self-designed product (i.e., one's bid in the course of the auction) is indeed not only impacted by the preference fit the customer expects it to deliver, but also by (1) the process enjoyment the customer reports, (2) the interaction of preference fit and process enjoyment, and (3) the interaction of preference fit and perceived process effort. In addition to its main effect, we interpret preference fit as a moderator of the valuegenerating effect of process evaluation: In cases where the outcome of the process is perceived as positive (high preference fit), the customer also interprets process effort as a positive accomplishment, and this positive affect adds (further) value to the product. It appears that the perception of the self-design process as a good or bad experience is partly constructed on the basis of the outcome of the process. In the opposite case (low preference fit), effort creates a negative affect which further reduces the subjective value of the product. Likewise, process enjoyment is amplified by preference fit, although enjoyment also has a significant main effect, which means that regardless of the outcome, customers attribute higher value to a self-designed product if they enjoy the process. The importance of the self-design process found in this study bears clear relevance for companies which offer or plan to offer MC systems. It is not sufficient to design MC toolkits in such a way that they allow customers to design products according to their preferences. The affect caused by this process is also highly important. Toolkits should therefore stimulate positive affective reactions and at the same time keep negative affect to a minimum. (authors' abstract)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1020-1031
JournalJournal of Product Innovation Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2010

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