Kaiser, Schreier, and Janiszewski link product customization and enhanced performance. Their research “demonstrates that the self-expressive customization [this would be a modification that reflects the user’s beliefs, ideas about who they are as a person, membership in a group, etc.] of a product can improve performance on tasks performed using the customized product. Five studies show that the effect is robust across different types of tasks (e.g., persistence tasks, concentration tasks, agility tasks). The evidence further shows that the effect is not due to changes in product efficacy [effectiveness] beliefs, feelings of competence, feelings of accomplishment. . . . Instead, the self-expressive customization of a product extends an identity (e.g., personal identity, group identity) into the product. When the product is subsequently used to pursue a goal whose desired outcome can affirm the extended identity, performance improves.” So, if a knife is customized to indicate that someone is a chef, performance will improve on tasks related to being a chef.
Ulrike Kaiser, Martin Schreier, and Chris Janiszewski. “The Self-Expressive Customization of a Product Can Improve Your Performance.” Journal of Marketing Research, in press.