Conventional market research methods do not work well in the instance of many industrial goods and services, and yet, accurate understanding of user need is essential for successful product innovation. Cornelius Herstatt and Eric von Hippel report on a successful field application of a “lead user” method for developing concepts for needed new products. This method is built around the idea that the richest understanding of needed new products is held by just a few users. It is possible to identify these “lead users” and then draw them into a process of joint development of new product concepts with manufacturer personnel. In the application described, the lead user method was found to be much faster than traditional ways of identifying promising new product concepts as well as less costly. It also was judged to provide better outcomes by the firm participating in the case. The article includes practical detail on the steps that were used to implement the method at Hilti AG, a leading manufacturer of products and materials used in construction.
The Journal of Product Innovation Management – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 1992
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