• From phonebloks to google project ara. A case study of the application of sustainable mass customization

      Hankammer, Stephan; Jiang, Ruth; Kleer, Robin (2016)
      Mass Customization (MC) has become a major trend in the consumer goods market in recent years. However, it is still unclear if MC goods have a positive impact on the environment due to the many influencing factors in comparison to mass produced goods. With Google’s “Project Ara”, a modular and customizable smartphone approach is very likely to reach market maturity and its economic, social and ecologic impacts are still unclear. Using a qualitative case study approach, we shed light on its potential economic success. Furthermore, we use the two theoretical concepts of Eco Innovation (EI) and Systemic Innovation (SI) to assess Google Ara’s potential to lead to changes in terms of ecologic and social concerns. In our analysis, we show that Project Ara has the potential to outperform its competitors of modular smartphones. We work out that Google’s modular approach could lead to a longer useful life of smartphones – or at least for some components. Finally, we affirm Project Ara’s general potential for being an SI. Even though Project Ara will very likely not change the complete smartphone market and the behavior of the involved actors, there is a potential for influencing sociocultural behavior in the long tail of the smartphone market.
    • Mass customization and sustainable consumption: Nudging consumers towards more sustainable choices.

      Hankammer, Stephan; Kleer, Robin; Piller, Frank (2018)
      In this study, we shed light on the unexplored potential of customer co-creation in a mass customization (MC) setting to contribute to the promotion of sustainable consumption. We theoretically derive and empirically test a number of opportunities for companies to improve corporate sustainability in a joint effort with consumers. Our research bridges between the MC and the sustainability literatures and shows that MC enables consumers to cohere attitude and action based on individual sustainability preferences. We use a mixed-method approach to empirically assess whether MC companies can nudge their customers successfully towards more sustainable choices by designing sustainability-based starting solutions and by providing sustainability information in MC configuration systems. We do so by portraying a simulated online buying process of a customizable TV with a realistic web-based product configurator. We find that offering goods with customizable attributes of different sustainability levels gives consumers the ability to customize products reflecting their individual consciousness for sustainable consumption (CfSC). Moreover, sustainable default settings play a significant role in promoting sustainable consumption, while providing detailed sustainability information does not show an effect. To get more insights into our results, we discuss the results on a supplementary qualitative analysis, revealing also a number of suggestions for future research