Mass Customization: Bears, Blogs, etc.

Mass customization is all over the place these days. For example, we were in a branch of Build-A-Bear Workshop today. It is the largest of the create-your-own animal chains.

I hasten to add that the animals in question are stuffed (teddy bears, etc.), and that the day when you can build your own living bear or other animal and take it home from the mall is not yet upon us. That said, the firm’s mission is to bring the Teddy Bear to life. Who knows how far this will go.

There are a few dozen basic beasts, mostly bears. Then there are lots of ways of customizing the basic model you get: sounds, clothes, etc. That’s just in the store.

The thing that really impressed me is the partnership with Zazzle. You can design your own Build-a-Bear stuff, and others can buy it. With apologies to the jargon-averse: this is Build-a-Bear 2.0; and these bears have their own ecosystem.

This blog is itself an example of mass customization. There are over a million blogs at WordPress.com. Features like sidebar widgets and, of course, custom CSS, enable each to be different. I’m developing this view of blogging and mass customization in much more detail elsewhere, but I just thought I’d throw it in with the bears.

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