Product strategists at Mars, Incorporated are experimenting with mass customized offerings quite a bit.  In addition to their build-to-order customized M&Ms offering, their subsidiary Wrigley has just rolled out MyExtra gum, which prints personalized wrappers on Extra gum packs.

Product strategists at Wrigley declined Forrester’s recent request for a research interview, but judging from the myextragum website and their press release, the offering is a really interesting example of a creatively mass customized product strategy.  Why?  Product strategists at Wrigley have:

  • Redefined the product using customization. Myextragum isn’t just gum with a customized wrapper. Instead, it’s a greeting card (Mother’s day, birthday, other holiday) or a business card (to be given to patrons) plus gum. Wrigley is moving into a non-adjacent, previously orthogonal product market in one fell swoop. That’s aggressive and creative.
  • Justified the higher price point. At $4.99 – though the price reduces with bulk orders – the product is pretty expensive for a pack of gum. But, again, it’s not a pack of gum – it’s a greeting card or business card that also has gum inside. This pricing makes sense when you think of the price of Hallmark cards or custom business cards.

The site also allows sharing on Facebook or Twitter — making for a social mass customized co-design experience. The site remembers users, too, which is key to mass customized product strategies, which are iterative and loyalty-based. 

Now for the bad news: According to the press release, “it takes between 14 and 21 days to print and ship depending on the shipping method chosen.” While we would want to study this proposition among real prospective customers in a qualitative and/or quantitative fashion to say for sure, this fulfillment period seems like a very long time. Convenience analysis suggests that MyExtra needs to be compared to two possible substitutes – in this case, both gum and greeting cards. Gum is clearly available (albeit without the fun wrappers), as are greeting cards.  B2B customers ordering business cards might be more accustomed to this length of wait.

Our mass customized product strategy research revealed that time-to-market is an important component of these offerings. That’s why a lot of product strategists have located their production facilities in expensive geographies like Boston, MA or Frankfurt, Germany – to be close to customers and to deliver quick results. Wrigley’s offering might need to rethink the 3-week window of order fulfillment.

Clients can read our major new report, “Mass Customization Is (Finally) The Future Of Products.” We’d love to hear your feedback, or stories about your own experiments with mass customization. We've also published an article on Mashable, so please check that out as well.