We live in an age where – so long as the money is right – a customer has unprecedented levels of flexibility in their ability to personalize the product they buy. For a few dollars added on to your purchase, you can get an iPhone or iPad engraved with a customized message that says pretty much anything you want it to. For a few dollars extra, you can have that same iPhone delivered to your doorstep overnight. With the rise of fast-moving supply chains that can accommodate every whim of the consumer as never before, a corresponding inevitability occurs: the line between consumer and manufacturer gets slightly blurry. With so many consumers asking for “customized” or “personalized” product experiences, the consumer has begun gradually to play more and more of an active role in the physical process of production itself.

We at Production Materials couldn’t be happier about this industry trend, since customization and personalization have always been (apart from quality itself) our special focus. For example, we are truly excited about the new 2013 Dodge Dart from Chrysler Group LLC, a car that offers “five different basic styles, 12 different exterior colors and up to 14 different interior color schemes, including ‘black and ruby red’ and ‘diesel gray and citrus.’ Buyers will pick from up to seven different wheel choices and can get a dashboard they can personalize to either show digital performance data, or virtual analog gauges.” The total number of potential combinations of Dodge Dart that can be produced is estimated to be over 100,000.

To live in the “Global Village” means to exist in the Global Market. Gone is the mass-produced mentality of Henry Ford and his Model T. The future belongs to the artisans and specialists. It will increasingly become the role of companies like PMI to aid consumers in making smart personal choices as far as buying the “right fit” of product for them, whether that’s a car or a computer. Companies like ours with a history of personalizing and tailor-making the consumer experience will be at a marked advantage over companies who’ve only ever known the way of the assembly line.

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