Dear Santa: Consumers Prefer DIY Products

DesignSpark Mechanical unleashes your ability to create. Free download:

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Bottom Line: Consumers value a product more highly when they make it themselves—but only if the assembly procedure is structured in a way that allows them to make creative decisions throughout the process. 

Still looking for that special last-minute holiday gift for your friends or family members? You might want to give them something they can make themselves. A new study suggests that under the right conditions, consumers value a product more when they have customized and assembled it themselves. But this DIY favorability boost arises only when the assembly procedure emphasizes consumers’ autonomous, real-time decision making.

This excerpt from an article by Matt Palmquist in Strategy+Business will be my last post for this year. My next post will be on Wednesday 08 January 2014.  I convey to all of you my season’s greetings with all good wishes for the new year 2014″ – Georges Abi-Aad.

In theory, consumers should want to put their own spin on a product but avoid the time-consuming process of actually making it. And yet, in a variety of contexts, consumers seem happy to open the instruction manual, pull up their sleeves, and get down to work. And they may even pay more for the privilege.

But to really get consumers to love a DIY product, companies have to do a little more than just provide an instruction booklet and an Allen wrench. The more creative effort people put into their product, the more they would be willing to pay for the kit—but only when customization and assembly occurred simultaneously.

“The more creative effort people put into a project, the more they are willing to pay for it.”

Product customization and assembly can create value for companies, but the conditions have to be carefully manipulated to gain the approval of DIYers.

Marketers and managers are encouraged in any product category in which consumers have the ability to customize their options (think of coordinating clothing or purchasing electronics) to emphasize creative choices alongside practical considerations.

Sectors that are normally associated with supreme effort rather than inspiration could especially benefit. For example, gyms should allow members to incorporate their own choices into their live training sessions, a subtle way to let consumers creatively “build” their own experience.

Even the cooking industry could learn something from these findings. At first glance, a cookbook might seem like a strange place for DIY projects. But choices in ingredients, cooking techniques, tools, and plating all give a consumer creative control over the process. Indeed, instruction manuals could be improved immediately if they were formatted to emphasize a consumer’s creative choices throughout the assembly procedure, and not just at the beginning.

And if companies can appropriately structure consumers’ customized assembly tasks, they “should be able to charge consumers for the opportunity to assemble the customizable product,” the authors write. In other words, it’s a win-win. Companies can create less, charge more, and give consumers the satisfaction of a job well imagined and well done.

Source: A Lot of Work or a Work of Art: How the Structure of a Customized Assembly Task Determines the Utility Derived from Assembly Effort, Eva C. Buechel (University of Miami) and Chris Janiszewski (University of Florida), Journal of Consumer Research, Feb. 2014, vol. 40

Original article:

About Georges Abi-Aad

CEO, electronic engineer with MBA in marketing. Multicultural; French citizen born in Lebanon working in the Middle East and fluent in French, English and Arabic. I have more than 30 years of proven experience in the Middle East with European know how. I am good in reorganization and in Global strategic management business. I am a dependable leader with an open approach in working with people, forging a strong team of professionals dedicated to the Company and its clientele. Perseverance is my key word. Married to Carole and having 2 children: Joy-Joelle and Antoine (Joyante!).
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