In the 20th century, the U.S. auto industry led the automotive manufacturing world by perfecting mass production.
In the 21st century, the U.S. auto industry needs to lead the automotive manufacturing world by adopting mass customization.
Mass production is about pushing products through the dealer/retail channel and deeply discounting what doesn’t sell. If you want confirmation of this, look at the chaos in the dealer channel as I write this.
The auto dealers who have lost their franchises with GM and Chrysler are discounting products 40% off list and more, literally dumping them in the retail channel. The discounts will get better for those who can wait a week or 2. They are stealing future business from the dealers who will remain in business for weeks and months to come.
Mass customization is about customers driving (not trying to be cute) demand and pulling products into the channel. It’s about building products for an individual customer within a previously-decided range of options.
Mass customization is about getting people what they want, not forcing them to settle for less than they want.
Mass customization is about being customer-driven, not being “market driven.”
It’s time for a major paradigm shift, not merely rearranging the deck chairs on the Titantic. It’s time of the auto industry to innovate not only products but also to innovate their approach to running their businesses by aligning with mass customization.
As an investor in GM (aren’t all U.S. citizens investors at this point?), we should demand nothing less.
If you want to learn more about mass customization, order my new book, Mass Customization.
What do you think?
David J. Gardner Mass Customization Expert