One of the really interesting business models to have emerged in the recent past is the seemingly paradoxical trend towards ‘mass customisation’. Two really good examples of this have been:
- Dell – their clever inventory and distribution strategy has enabled people to design their own computers online and have them delivered; and
- Starbucks – which delivers a seemingly commoditised product, but with around 19,000 options.
Here are a few thoughts on some of the IP creation implications of a mass customisation business model:
- when designing the business model, you should spend a lot of time really understanding what it takes to enable your mass-customisation strategy, then seriously consider filing patents to cover it;
- if you think that the secret to your mass customisation strategy can be kept a secret and is not able to be reverse engineered (and I’m skeptical), then reconsider the patent decision;
- as is always the case, brand and trade marks will be critical to the emotions evoked by your customers, so you obviously need to get them right;
- if you do end up patenting the mass customisation enabler – then consider creating a separate brand for it to generate a relationship with this differenciator which has separate value;
what would you add?