Like chocri, Spreadshirt started out in Germany (in their case with custom t-shirts, not personalized chocolate bars, and then expanded to the US three years later. For many of us mass customizers, spreadshirt is a great example to look up to - the idea of mass customization was about where it is today in the US (hardly known) and yet the Spreadshirt founder Lukasz Gadowski pushed his great idea of customized apparel - and had great success. Spreadshirt isn't only selling a couple t-shirts- they are selling millions of t-shirts. What is interesting and different about Spreadshirt is that while the base of customers that create their own t-shirt is very strong in Germany, abroad Spreadshirt experience more growth with so-called "partner shops" - a typical example of crowdsourcing: Partners design t-shirts and sell them on their own website/ in their own shop.
Like chocri, Spreadshirt is also huge on open innovation by the way. They crowdsourced their logo (see left) and are in constant dialogue with their customers and shop partners. Similarly, we here at chocri learn from you what toppings you want, usability suggestions on Facebook, and even our name "chocri" was a decision by our early fans (both in Germany and the US)!
Spreadshirt's CEO Jana Eggers, the American with the German-sounding name, jets between Leipzig, the German headquarter of Spreadshirt, and the US base in Boston. I had the pleasure to meet her in New York just before her interview with a major newspaper (I am flattered) to talk to her about differences between the German and the US market and the future of mass customization.
*You can also see this video on our YouTube Channel
The biggest takeaway from my meeting with Jana is in the video above. I asked her what she thinks the future of mass customization is, and she warned not to be too much in love with the idea of mass customization itself, but rather to think about what the customer wants. She gives the example of their line of CNN headline shirts - the idea of CNN headlines on t-shirts wouldn't be possible without mass customization, yet its taking it a step further and not just plain mass customization anymore.
I've been thinking about this idea for a few days now, and I have mixed feelings about it. I absolutely believe in not getting stuck on one thing, but rather to think about how you can develop it further. At the same time, I am very much in love with mass customization, exactly what Jana warns about. To me, it's such a desirable thing to make something that is exactly what you want, that to me has so much more value than to consume something made entirely by someone else. To me, it's a means of self-expression, something for me to be creative without big barriers but with instant benefits (especially in the case of chocolate). I realize now that there's different motives for customizing your own t-shirt and your own chocolate bar, and that those motives differ per customer. I will be thinking about it more...
What fascinates you about customizing your chocolate bar or your t-shirt?