Title: Mass customisation of wood furniture as a competitive strategy

Authors: Torsten Lihra, Urs Buehlmann, Robert Beauregard

Addresses: Forintek Canada Corp., Quebec, G1P 4R4, Canada. ' Buehlmann Consulting, San Diego, CA 92154, USA. ' Universite Laval, Quebec, G1K 7P4, Canada

Abstract: The existence of some segments of the US furniture industry is threatened by imports from offshore countries. Mass Customisation (MC) is discussed as a competitive strategy for US furniture manufacturers to offset their intrinsic production cost disadvantage. Examples from four domestic furniture industry subsectors are used to propose a possible correlation between the level of product customisation (MC) offered and their success in the market. The US kitchen cabinet industry was found to offer the highest level of MC of all subsectors analysed. Interestingly, at the present time, the kitchen cabinet industry is not heavily affected by offshore imports. The wood household furniture industry, on the other hand, was ranked last in regard to MC and was also the one most heavily affected by offshore imported furniture. The study indicates that MC can be used as a successful business strategy for domestic producers competing with low-cost offshore manufacturers.

Keywords: mass customisation; wood furniture; business models; furniture manufacturer survey; market globalisation; industrial engineering; lean manufacturing; United States; USA; competitive strategy; domestic furniture; imports; offshore competition.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMASSC.2008.017140

International Journal of Mass Customisation, 2008 Vol.2 No.3/4, pp.200 - 215

Published online: 15 Feb 2008 *

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