C2M Business Model - a short explanation

The C2M (Consumer-To-Manufacturing) business model, is one in which product design and demand is driven by consumers rather than by brands and manufacturers.


Table of Contents

In traditional consumer business models, a brand designs products, sources them from a manufacturer, runs marketing to attract buyers and sells the products either direct to consumer (D2C) or through wholesale channels, e.g. by selling in bulk to retailers.

C2M Definition

In C2M, a manufacturer uses vast amounts of social media data and consumer digital activity (e.g. websites & Apps) to accurately identify consumer wants and needs and precisely tailor new product design and production quantity. This gives extremely fast time-to-market for new products, high and predictable demand and hence precisely measured manufacturing runs to maximize full price sales and margin (profit).

C2M Origins

The C2M concept originated in China, where ecommerce marketplaces dominate the retail landscape. These marketplaces have vast quantities of data about consumers - who they are, where they live, what they buy, how they travel, brands they interact with, and so on. This data is made available to manufacturers participating in their innovation programs to enable them to deliver C2M processes and products.

C2M vs Personalized Product Manufacture

C2M is distinct from personalized product manufacture where a consumer might explicitly specify a unique color, length and trim of a garment.  In C2M, preferences are captured and deduced from consumer data and behavior automatically, through artificial intelligence - so-called Big Data. This still results in repeatable products, but they can be tailored to a much narrower niche. By providing a small quantity of exactly the right product for a niche set of consumers, C2M manufacturers can keep prices and margins higher and produce products more quickly to capture demand which might only be fleeting.

This article was updated on June 12, 2021

M Ryan

M Ryan is an ecommerce consultant with twenty years experience working with retailers, consumer brand manufacturers and other consumer-facing businesses helping them to develop their ecommerce strategy, implement ecommerce technology and improve their ecommerce operations. He works extensively throughout US and Europe, with clients including global brands, large retailers and household names in consumer goods.