LEAD USER ANALYSIS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS GLEN L URBAN & ERIC VON HIPPEL
This article talks about how market research can provide useful inputs in the Lead User Methodology which can improve the productivity of new product development, especially to those products that are subject to rapid technological changes. Lead users not only provide information concerning their unfilled needs but even provide solutions and can even be developers of successful new products. Lead user are characterized by those who face needs that are general in the market but much before the others experience it and they also arrive at a solution which provides them wit a high level of benefit. The article uses the case study involving Computer Aided Designs (CAD) systems because it was a rapidly growing market. The four steps used in conducting this research were: (1) Specifying lead user indicators by first identifying a market or technological trend and then defining the potential benefit. (2) Identifying the lead user group. (3) Generating data from the lead users from their real life experiences. (4) Testing the above lead user concept because the needs of today's lead users (early adopters) may not always be the same as those of the followers. Learning Points: (1) The assumptions prove that lead user analysis can improve productivity of new product analysis. (2) There are various problems like accurate trend identification, product perceptions of lead and non lead users tat must be considered. (3) In addition to industrial products, lead user methodology can be applied to consumer goods; services etc and lead users can even be created and can be of use after product launch as well.
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