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An evaluation of customer input into the development of products in ‘The Body Shop’

Submitted to

Ann McManus
Dissertation Supervisor

Submitted by

Student ID: 20015851
Group:

Dissertation submitted in part fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Administration at Cardiff Metropolitan University

May, 2012

Declaration

Acknowledgement

After passing some difficult ups and downs I have been able to complete this dissertation and it has become possible due to persistent support and guidance of my respectable supervisor Ann McManus. I am unconditionally admitting that I would not be able to complete this research project without her generous support and encouragement. Thus, I am taking this opportunity to express my sincerest gratitude to her. Customers of the case company who willingly completed the survey questionnaire deserve my sincere gratitude as I could not have the required data to complete the dissertation. I am indebted to them for their generous support and accordingly expressing my sincere gratitude to them. Naturally I did not have experience of conducting such big research task before. In my conducting this research project I took tips and suggestions from my friends. While I was in frustration they boosted me up and encouraged me saying that I can do that. And at last I did that. On this occasion I am also expressing my affectionate thanks to them.

London, 2012

Abstract

Innovation has less commercial value if it cannot induce customer demand or meet customer needs. Customer need or demand is considerably linked to their perception. Therefore, it is essential to know what they perceive about a company’s specific innovation strategy and implementation. The research aim is to investigate customer involvement in product development and their perception of innovation strategies and their implementation at ‘The Body Shop’. It is to investigate how customers perceive the innovation strategies of a reputed innovative company. To achieve the research aim, the study selected deductive research approach, case study research strategy, and accordingly collected data from the customers of the case company – The Body Shop using questionnaire data collection tool which produced quantitative data that were analysed using MS Excel. It has been found that The Body Shop does not take formal approach to get suggestions for new products from customers and follows closed ended innovation process. The identified customer perception also suggests that the company can be nearer to its customers and enjoy their satisfaction more if they consider involving customers more in its product development process. Despite being highly innovative, innovation factor of The Body Shop has only a little influence in the customer perception though there is a potential scope to influence positively as all the respondent customers who were involved in product development process expressed their satisfaction for the involvement. It has been further found that customers of The Body Shop have high satisfaction for its innovative product ranges, but have less satisfaction when they perceive less value for money. In terms of involvement in new product development process, it has been found that most of them perceive themselves as ‘not involved’ and who stated ‘involved’ expressed satisfaction to be a part of product development process. The study suggests the company to practice open innovation process at least involving its customers, so that customer satisfaction would increase further for if they perceive to be a part of the company’s product development process. The Body Shop is suggested to consider open innovation process by...
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