Consumer Research in the Early Stages of New Product Development

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Consumer research in the early stages of new product development Issues and applications in the food domain

Ellen van Kleef

Promotor:

Co-promotor:

prof. dr. ir. J.C.M. van Trijp Hoogleraar in de marktkunde en het consumentengedrag Wageningen Universiteit dr. ir. P.A. Luning Universitair docent Leerstoelgroep Productontwerpen en Kwaliteitskunde Wageningen Universiteit

Promotiecommissie:

prof. dr. ir. M.A.J.S. van Boekel, Wageningen Universiteit, Nederland prof. dr. K.G. Grunert, The Aarhus School of Business, Denmark prof. dr. C.M.J. van Woerkum, Wageningen Universiteit, Nederland prof. dr. J.P.L. Schoormans, Technische Universiteit Delft, Nederland

Dit onderzoek is uitgevoerd binnen de onderzoekschool VLAG (Voeding, Levensmiddelentechnologie, Agrobiotechnologie en Gezondheid)

Consumer research in the early stages of new product development Issues and applications in the food domain

Ellen van Kleef

Proefschrift ter verkrijging van de graad van doctor op gezag van de rector magnificus van Wageningen Universiteit prof. dr. M.J. Kropff in het openbaar te verdedigen op vrijdag 6 januari 2006 des namiddags te half twee in de Aula

Van Kleef, Ellen Consumer research in the early stages of new product development. Issues and applications in the food domain/Ellen van Kleef PhD-thesis, Wageningen University. – With ref. – With summary in Dutch ISBN: 90-8504-330-1

Voor Muji en Rima

Abstract
New products that deliver added consumer value contribute significantly to the success of companies. In the numerous studies of new product performance over the years, consensus has developed that understanding consumer needs is of paramount strategic value, especially in the early stages of the product development process. During these early stages, the product has not yet been specified and the aim is to search for novel product ideas from a marketing and technological perspective. Despite their importance, several studies indicate that consumer research methodologies are underutilised in the early stages of new product development. The aim of this thesis is to analyse key issues and develop and illustrate appropriate consumer research methodology at early stages of the new product development process, as this is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of successful product development projects. Consumer research can be confirmative in its focus of testing new product concepts before launch and in this way prevents unjustified investments. Consumer research can also be proactive in that it aims to identify new product ideas that deliver against consumer needs that are not yet fulfilled by products currently in the market. Successful new product development requires a balance between both types of consumer research. The research in this thesis focuses on the optimal application of both types of consumer research in the early stages of the development process, in particular in providing guidance in generating and validating new product concepts. In the first chapter, the importance of new product development is presented and key factors of success and failure are discussed. Specially, the need for consumer research in the early stages is considered and criteria for effective strategic consumer research are outlined. In chapter 2, ten frequently used methods and techniques to uncover unmet consumer needs and wants are critically reviewed. Each of the following empirical chapters focuses on a specific aspect of the problems associated with selecting and implementing appropriate consumer research in the early stages of the product development process. Chapter 3 presents a framework which allows obtaining relevant consumer and expert feedback in an early stage of the product development process. By systematically generating and rigorously screening a large set of product concepts both inside (experts) and outside (consumers) the company, the framework shows the extent to which experts and consumer...
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