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The Psychology of Consumer Choice: Why do People Like Customized Goods?

From inscriptions placed inside of wedding bands to engraved family heirloom pocket watches, the world has long shown an interest in the world of customization. Not only do people tend to cherish customized items as keepsakes, but the ability to have an item customized is also a part of the item's allure. People appreciate the opportunity to choose.

Consumer choice is a driving force in the global economy, and studies conducted by Laura Frances Bright at the University of Texas at Austin demonstrate that consumer choice makes a huge impact on media enjoyment, attitude, and behavioral intention. Surprisingly, the path to personalization that is driven by consumer choice is also driven by how connected the consumer feels to the producer who is customizing that good.

Choice may not always dictate the way a consumer uses their wallet, if that consumer does not feel that the customization process is as relevant to the individual/consumer as possible. In other words, people like customized goods because they offer consumers a choice, a way to feel connected to a producer, and a product that is simply more valuable because it is unique. This knowledge about customization is beneficial for individuals who are interested or involved in commerce.

People like customized opportunities because they provide an individual with a choice. America was founded on independence and the freedom to choose. When people are able to tailor an experience for themselves they tend to enjoy the experience or product a bit more. A research examined this exact idea about the how people enjoy the freedom to choose a tailored experience, and their research concluded that, "In sum, customized environments offer a greater since of media enjoyment for consumers within this sample, however the types of advertising used within these environments requires further investigation to determine what is optimal" (Bright).

Whether the item is a customized playlist to a personalized cutting board, subjects in the study demonstrated that the "customized environments offer a greater since of media enjoyment." It would extend that other sources of customized environments offer a great since of enjoyment. For example, someone's bedroom. Most people like their room because it is customized to their taste. It would make sense that a business would want to pay attention to ways that it can customize items to meet its consumers needs, even their individual needs or wants. This, according to the study, is good business.

People like customized goods because they give consumers a way to feel connected to a producer. Etsy is the perfect example of a business that highlights a connection between the consumer and the producer. In the article" To Be, or Not to Be (Me)? Role of Identity in Creating Custom Products” by Jennifer Lee, published in the Journal of Advanced in Consumer Research in 2017. According to Lee, "we examine how customization examples shape the target consumer’s customization decisions. We particularly focus on the target consumer’s relationship with the example creator, namely whether the creator is a close or distant other" (32). Etsy demonstrates as the author states about the "focus on the target consumer's relationship with the example creator." Etsy highlights different artist and creators.

The website showcases the idea that the consumer is purchasing from someone who is running a small business, and making their product from scratch. The website even states that it has a "one-of-a-kind community" and "support independent creators." These examples demonstrate that people like customized goods because they create opportunities for connection and the consumer to feel that they helped out someone who more closely represents the "common man/woman" instead of a huge conglomerate corporation.

Customized goods are simply more valuable because they are unique. An heirloom family wedding ring or a picture frame with an special engraved message, these customized goods often go for a higher price because their worth is in their rarity. An article published in the Journal of Marketing Research in 2019 called "The Secret Ingredient Is Me: Customization Prompts Self-Image-Consistent Product Perceptions." The authors who conducted the research stated that, " this is because customization leads customers to perceive the product in line with their own self-image (e.g., as an unhealthy eater), a phenomenon that the authors term "self-image-consistent product perceptions." Essentially, customization may influence product perceptions depending on the product and individuals' self-image"

Because individuals are just that, individuals, and as such, society values individual identity or autonomy, especially western civilizations, then items that reflect one's "self-image" contain more exclusivity, which is at the cornerstone of rarity and even luxury or specialized experiences or products.

It should be noted that consumer trends in customization and manufacturing are moving toward swift technological advancements. Those who are a part of commerce and interested in the addition of customization to a process or procedure within one's professional field, may want to consider if the customization process that they are considering requires technological infrastructure, which could be quite costly along with the additional costs of software and system upgrades.

In an article titles, "The Five Most Important Manufacturing Trends: What is ahead for not just for the new year, but for the next decade?" the author states, "it is noted that the merger of extended reality and global interconnectivity will benefit businesses around the world. Machines and humans will literally collaborate in the future to help manufacturers make better-designed and better-produced goods.

The use of nanobots for preventive maintenance will detect flaws and repair equipment before it breaks down" (Gold). "Nanobots," "extended reality," these terms suggest a future in customization and manufacturing that will likely support customization options that are related to computers and online structures.

Businesses who take advantage of customization processes will be able to tailor an experience that may create a more valuable product because the customer got to choose their item. The value of that item will rise if the consumer feels that the customization process provides a connection that between the consumer and producer. The value of a customization process is increased by the uniqueness and rarity of a customized or one-of-a-kind item.

In an intrinsic way, studies illustrate that when a consumer has a customized product, then that product holds more value because of it's uniqueness, these same studies show that a unique item is a reflection of "self-image," which means in a way that a customized experience actually makes the consumer feel that they have more value. A business that makes a consumer feel more value by engaging with one's services and products is likely to do well in business.

Works Cited

Bright, Laura Frances. "Consumer control and customization in online environments : an

investigation into the psychology of consumer choice and its impact on media enjoyment,

attitude, and behavioral intention" University of Texas Libraries Dissertations Accessed 24 June 2020

Etsy. Etsy. Accessed 23 June 2020.

Gold, Stephen. “The Five Most Important Manufacturing Trends: What Is Ahead for Not Just for

the New Year, but for the next Decade?” Industry Week/IW, vol. 268, no. 1, Jan. 2019, p. 5.EBSCOhost, site=ehost-live&scope=site.Accessed June 27 2020

Klesse, Anne-Kathrin, et al. “The Secret Ingredient Is Me: Customization Prompts Self-Image

Consistent Product Perceptions.” Journal of Marketing Research (JMR), vol. 56, no. 5, Oct. 2019, pp. 879–893. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/0022243719846063. Accessed 26 June 2020.

Lee, Jennifer K. “To Be, or Not to Be (Me)? Role of Identity in Creating Custom

Products.”Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 45, Jan. 2017, pp. 31–35. EBSCOhost,

live&scope=site. Accessed 26 June 2020.


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