The paradigm of mass customization strives to minimize the tradeoffs between an ‘ideal’ product and products that are currently available. However, the lack of information relation mechanisms that connect the domains of marketing, engineering, and distribution have caused significant challenges when designing products for mass customization. For example, the bridge connecting the marketing and engineering domains is complicated by the lack of proven tools and methodologies that allow customer needs and preferences to be understood at a level discrete enough to support true mass customization. Discrete choice models have recently gained significant attention in engineering design literature as a way of expressing customer preferences. This paper explores how information from choice-based conjoint surveys might be used to assist the development of a mass customizable MP3 player, starting from 140 student surveys. The authors investigate the challenges of fielding discrete choice surveys for the purpose of mass customization, and explore how hierarchical Bayes mixed logit and latent class multinomial logit models might be used to understand the market for customizable attributes. The potential of using discrete choice models as a foundation for mathematically formulating mass customization problems is evaluated through an investigation of strengths and limitations.

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