December 9, 2015

It’s all about ‘me’: Narcissism and mass-customized products

(December 9, 2015)  Researchers say a rising trend in narcissism is cause for retailing and manufacturing firms offering customizable products to rethink their marketing strategies.

Writing in the Journal of Retailing, marketing and psychology researchers from the University St. Gallen, Washington State University and Ruhr University Bochum offer insights into how firms can increase the uniqueness of self-designed products by examining consumers’ narcissistic behavior.

“An increasing number of retailers and manufacturers provide their customers with the opportunity to create individualized, unique products,” said David Sprott, WSU marketing professor and co-author of the study. “Our research suggests that firms should consider customers’ narcissistic tendencies as well as the ability to influence their current states of mind to exploit the largely untapped potential of mass customization systems.”

Driving consumers toward self-design options

The researchers focused on the automobile industry to demonstrate how narcissism can be used to enhance marketing strategies. In this industry, firms offer a wide range of options that allow customers to self-design truly unique products.
Yet field evidence indicates that few shoppers fully use these systems. For example, most consumers select standard colors (black or white) rather than customize a car with a unique paint treatment (like volcano red).

journal reference (Open Access) >>