This Week's Herman Trend Alert

in Normal 2.0


  The Herman Trend Alert

September 14, 1999

Customize, Customize, Customize

108 days until January 1, 2000

We're on the threshold of a major shift from mass-production to customized production. The move toward customization is already apparent in many industries, and will become even more evident during the next few years.

A couple of examples will illustrate this trend. If you'd like to purchase a pair of jeans, you have several choices. Buy something "off the rack" at a clothing store or make your purchase from a mail order house. Alternatively, you can have a totally customized pair of Levis jeans made for you, personally. You'll be electronically measured at a convenient retailer, who will e-mail your measurements to the factory. Your jeans will go right into production, created just for you. In just a few days, your new clothing will be delivered to your door.

Toyota recently announced a program to manufacture a car to your specifications within three days of receiving your order. Now, instead of selecting from cars available at a dealership, or placing an order for delivery in weeks or months, you'll look forward to a much quicker response. The car will still have to be shipped, but it will be delivered considerably faster than ever before.

As we become more individualized as consumers, we'll demand more personalized products and services. Eager to maintain their competitive advantage and their relationship with you as a valued customer, suppliers will respond. Companies like the Lillian Vernon Catalog, who have been customizing for years will have an advantage in their markets.

Manufacturers accustomed to mass production will scramble to create fast-response systems to make one-of-a-kind items. Workers-and their managers-will be challenged to devise and manage systems to manufacture one-time personalized products. This demand will increase the need for higher skills to operate what will essentially be fast-change job shops in many industries.

People working in mass production manufacturing jobs will re-train to perform these new custom-production jobs. Other workers, rising from the unskilled or low skilled ranks, will move into vacated mass production jobs. The mass production demand will remain, to service domestic and international markets not yet ready or interested in individualization of products.

© Copyright 1998- by The Herman Group, Inc. -- reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or To sign up, visit The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc."

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