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Mass customization for long-term relationship development: Why consumers purchase mass customized products again

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the environment of the online shopping process for mass customization (MC) in long-term relationships (LTRs) between a firm and its customers. Specifically investigated is why some consumers are initially willing to purchase MC products online and what makes them purchase again. Conversely, the paper looks at why some are not interested in purchasing MC products again. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This paper utilizes a qualitative research method. In-depth interviews were conducted to reveal information about the relationship between a firm and its consumers. In total, 20 participants evaluated the online shopping process, the firm's web site, the products they received and their overall shopping experience. Findings ‐ The major findings provide interesting evidence regarding consumer behaviors in the online shopping process for MC products. Three types of customers were identified: apathetic consumers who are not interested in purchasing MC products again; ardent consumers who are interested in purchasing MC products as well as mass-produced products; and holistic consumers who have essential needs that can be addressed with MC products. Practical implications ‐ The findings give valuable insights to firms which are interested in providing MC products and establishing LTRs with their customers. Originality/value ‐ This study identifies ideal potential customers and their needs for MC products in the context of online shopping in LTRs, and utilizes a new approach by combining in-depth interviews with the valuation of the genuine MC products that participants were able to order. No previous research was found that used this approach to investigate consumer behavior regarding MC.
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Keywords: Internet shopping; Mass customization; Relationship marketing; Shoes

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 13, 2008

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