Difference Between Mass Production and Mass Customization

Mass Production vs Mass Customization

The difference between mass production and mass customization stems from the concepts of production of product and customer needs. Technology has improved the production capability and product differentiation at organizations. Higher literacy rates, improvements in technology, and quick access to information (internet) have made customers also smarter. So, customer demands are becoming more complex and each customer preference varies. This has made organizations to provide individual attention to customers. However, this depends on the product and industry as well. Some products do not demand individual attention and mostly the need is similar with all customers. In this case, individual attention is not required and organizations choose the most efficient production settings. This brief background will assist in better understanding of mass production and mass customization.

What is Mass Production?

As already explained, some products are standardized and customer need is highly similar. Also, there are products with excess demand with less supply. In such scenarios, the efficient production technique should be chosen. Mass production is regarded as the most efficient production system where costs are driven down while production capacity is maintained at a higher level. Mass production can be defined as the production of large quantities of standardized products quickly. Economies of scale are achieved with mass production.

After industrial revolution, especially during the early twentieth century, the concept of mass production saw its emergence. Identical products or copies are made with mass production. Also, the consumers of such products are termed as being homogeneous (same kind of needs). Still, to date, mass production is practiced for its benefits. One of the earliest and popular mass produced product was the Ford T Model car. It was produced using assembly lines, and cars were identical. Even the paint was of the same color (black color). In mass production, the production process is departmentalized and, in each department, a specific task is assigned to a single worker. This makes the workers to become specialized in the given process during their career. The basic conditions for mass production are homogeneous customers, excess demand and standardized products. At least, one of these conditions should exist to choose mass production.

Difference Between Mass Production and Mass Customization

One of the earliest mass production – Ford T Model car

What is Mass Customization?

Mass customization is the new frontier in the field of manufacturing and marketing. Custom made products with a low cost is the specialty of mass customization. The costs are maintained similar or marginally higher compared to mass production costing. It can be observed, that mass customization equips the firm to have diversity in products and flexibility for individual customization with a lower increase in corresponding costs. This customization can improve the customer value drastically and that will provide a competitive advantage in the industry.

Mass customization can help improve efficiency and in obtaining the benefits of economies of scale. The concept of mass customization is new and only appeared after advancement of electronics such as household computers. The conditions for mass customization to succeed are a large heterogeneous (diverse) customer base that demand differentiation of products and the ability to differentiate products during the production process. Production of Dell notebooks is a perfect example of mass customization. Through their website, customers can assemble notebooks as they prefer such as its memory capacity, processor, screen size, etc. Thereafter, it will be delivered to the customer. This is possible as each small element is produced in bulk and assembling part has the flexibility to choose what customer prefers. So, applying mass customization is less frequent and is mostly limited to electronic industry.

 Mass Production vs Mass Customization

Example of mass customization

What is the difference between Mass Production and Mass Customization?

Now, we have an understanding of mass production and mass customization. We will compare and contrast between the two terms to find the key parameters of the variance between them.

Definitions of Mass Production and Mass Customization:

Mass Production: Mass production can be defined as the production of large quantities of standardized products quickly.

Mass Customization: Custom made products with a low cost is mass customization.

Characteristics of Mass Production and Mass Customization:

Customer Needs:

Mass Production: In mass production, the needs of the customers are homogeneous or similar in nature. For example, in Asian countries rice is the staple food during lunch time. So, it is similar with large number of customers.

Mass Customization: In mass customization the needs of the customers are heterogeneous or diverse in nature. For example, when purchasing a phone each customer has a different requirement. One may require a large screen, one may require a good camera, and so on.


Mass Production: Mass production is suited for large consumption markets that have semi—homogeneous client base. The market should be for standardized products.

Mass Customization: Mass customization is suited for customers who have diverse needs. Also, the production units should allow flexibility (example: assembling).

Product Nature:

Mass Production:In Mass production, the products are standardized.

Mass Customization: In Mass customization, the products are diverse and individually customized.

We conclude that the mass production and mass customization aims to achieve efficiency with divided customer interests.


Images Courtesy:

  1. 1919 Ford Model T Highboy Coupe by Sfoskett~commonswiki (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Dell Studio 1535 by Matt Eason (CC BY-SA 3.0)