Bespoke manufacturing vs. mass manufacturing vs. mass customization

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Bespoke manufacturing: Each item individually made

Bespoke manufacturing is where each product is unique. Hand-made items fall in this category – even if each product is intended to be similar, there will inevitably be differences between products. Bespoke manufacturing allows substantial customizations. Products may be made to order, with substantial opportunities for individual customizations to the products. 

Mass manufacturing: Large volumes of the same product

Mass manufacturing involves manufacturing in large production quantities – substantially bringing the cost of the product down relative to bespoke production. Mass manufacturing looks to produce each product (and component) identically. The fact that parts are identical allows them to be interchangeable – rather than each component made to the specific product, the components are each themselves identical.

Mass manufacturing also takes advantage of economies of scale – efficient production lines can be established that bring down the cost per unit. 

Mass customization: Large volumes of custom products

Mass customization is in many ways an evolution of mass manufacturing. Rather than allowing large volumes of identical products to be produced, mass customization seeks to allow each product produced to be different from the next. Mass customization requires substantial investments in automation and communication – allowing each product to be customized without the costs traditionally associated with bespoke manufacturing.

The intent of mass customization is to allow the scale benefits of mass manufacturing to be maintained while allowing individual personalizations to the product.