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What does hyper-customization in consumer packaged goods look like?

Discover the integration of 3D printing technology and cloud computing that allows the tracking of an infinite number of customer designs.


Personalizing big-ticket items such as cars and computers, or even medium-ticket items such as bikes and sneakers, is viable from a retail manufacturing perspective because consumers are willing to pay more for such made-to-order “status items.”

The costs associated with modifying the supply chain to meet personal tastes are passed along to the consumer.

But that economic model does not hold in today’s CPG industry, where product costs are considerably lower and the cost of personalization would be hard to recoup.

But that’s not stopping savvy consumer packaged goods executives from asking, “How do I get in on this?”


New Balance nailed it. The athletic apparel maker teamed with global retailer Foot Locker to enable customers to design their own version of the 574 Sneaker.1

While Nike and others have offered similar customized design solutions in the past, the sheer number of choices in the Foot Locker/New Balance Times Square store kiosk is staggering. It’s the epitome of customization. And it involves no fewer than 15 zeroes.

It’s time to think about the sort of customization that might be possible if companies aren’t bound to their traditional manufacturing and supply chain processes.

What would happen if CPG companies could re-invent those processes—or remove them entirely from the equation? With advances in 3D printing, we may be on the verge of finding out.

Key Findings

Some CPG companies are outsourcing production of specialty orders to 3D print providers.

Eyeglass designer Bawsome, for example, uses Materialise’s Factory for 3D Printing as its made-to-order manufacturing and fulfillment arm.2

And that’s where cloud computing comes into the picture. It is the integration of 3D printing technology and the virtually limitless capacity of cloud computing that allows the tracking of an infinite number of customer designs.

It’s that integration that holds the greatest potential—and poses the greatest challenge—for consumer goods manufacturers.

We’re not just talking about the production of hard goods. From lollipops to pancakes, the personalization and production capabilities afforded by 3D printing are virtually endless.3

When Jell-O and chocolate can be printed, it is just a matter of time before toothpaste and shampoo can be, too. What happens then?

In a world of consumer-initiated customization, just about anything can happen.

We help our CPG clients consider new business models that will sustain their relevance in a world where consumers will use 3D printing and other technology to create their own products.

To learn more about how we see cloud computing and other digital technologies changing the industry, check out our slideshare.


1 Teddy ‘Roo, “New Balance 574 Customization Kiosk at Foot Locker Times Square,” Foot Locker website post, August 27, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2015 from

2 “The Future of Personalization Looks Bawsome,” Materialise website. Retrieved March 25, 2015 from

3 3D Printing Industry website. Retrieved March 25, 2015 from