Goodbye “out of the box” goods/services. Well, hello there personal manufacturing

lab

Customization on consumer goods and services was once a “nice to have”, “an essential option” – and now, it’s kind of a “must have or die” thing.

Over decades, we are more and more so being acknowledged and regarded as individuals with specific and unique genetic makeup, sexual orientation, tastes, needs, values, motives and preferences.

This of course has had and will continue to have a heavy impact on commerce and the development and marketing of the products and services we consume.

Think about some of the things you’ve recently consumed. Chances are there were customization elements available to help better fulfill your individual and unique needs. Here are some quick and simple examples that most of us are already familiar with:

Facebook.com
Your account and privacy settings, the applications, etc. Think about the number of times you’ve changed your preferences and your public profile. If you haven’t, well….you have TONS of options that you’re not yet aware of that can really help improve your experience with Facebook.

Electronics
We all need some quality time with our new electronic/tech toys. What do you think we spend our time doing? Installing and playing around with applications, widgets, screen protectors, wallpapers, etc. It’s becoming less and less about the actual hardware and more about the OS because of what they enable us to do.

Cosmetics
Skin makeup foundation can be custom blended, lip color palettes developed and marketed for mixing and blending, hair dye that comes with mixing spouts and individual pigment formulas.

Salad Bars
Choose everything from your green to your dressing. You can even make a full protein salad if  you wanted to. Meat salad anyone? Is that an oxymoron?

Now, even down to the content we consume we are given choice – what to receive and when thanks to companies like big time Pulse (See my write-up on Information Overload: How to be heard?)

Something that’s popped up in North America’s market over the past couple of years is 3 dimensional printing. I heard about it a couple of years ago and it was one of those things of which I made a mental note on to look out for. Since then, it’s been mentioned in a few TED Talks and technology publications and has and is currently being experimented within design and manufacturing institutions and healthcare labs. It’s an exciting technology for MANY reasons – one that’s most applicable for the nature of this write-up – is that personal manufacturing is now possible and actually accessible to the average joe. In fact, here we are in 2011 with 3D printers available for the average consumer for a couple of grand a pop. Check out Shapeways, a business behind a very smart concept that is enabling and building a community of designers and average folk like you and I to experiment with the new technology.

All these changes are as a result of economic changes over the years. You can choose to adapt, like some of the most successful companies out there have OR resist and be prepared to fall between the cracks. Yikes.

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