We experimentally investigate whether mass customization enhances sustainability and firm outcomes in a fast fashion context. Fast fashion delivers fashion trends to consumers quickly and cheaply but has detrimental effects on the environment (e.g., waste accumulation, water pollution). To mitigate these harmful effects, we examine how different points of customer involvement in mass customization affect the anticipated number of months to product disposal and willingness-to-pay for mass-customized products. We employ a series of experiments and find that consumer perceptions of the degree of customization increase as the point of customer involvement shifts upstream from Use to Assembly to Fabrication to Design and that the anticipated number of months to disposal and willingness-to-pay increase as the point of customer involvement shifts upstream to Design. We also find that the implementation of customer involvement in mass customization matters. Overall, these results provide evidence that mass customization via Design may not only help slow fast fashion down, which has major sustainability implications, but it may also present a win-win opportunity for both the environment and firms (in terms of the bottom line—provided, of course, that it does not have any major cost disadvantages).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Strategy and Management
- Management Science and Operations Research
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering