The Product Innovation Process

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Quick-service The product innovation process of restaurant chains quick-service restaurant chains Michael C. Ottenbacher
Heilbronn University, Heilbronn, Germany, and

523
Received 20 May 2008 Revised 24 July 2008, 23 September 2008 Accepted 24 September 2008

Robert J. Harrington
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA
Abstract
Purpose – This paper aims to outline the innovation process activities described by quick-service restaurant (QSR) managers and to compare it with an earlier QSR process model and with those used in other food service settings. Design/methodology/approach – Six semi-structured interviews with QSR chain executives in the USA were conducted to better understand the underlying factors and dimensions that describe successful innovation process practices. Findings – For new QSR menu innovations, the development teams follow a structured approach to reduce the likelihood of failure due to issues such as poor consumer demand or implementation. QSR screen new food innovations approximately five times during the development process. Furthermore, today’s QSR innovation process integrates more sophisticated market research technology and a post-audit is carried out after the new food concept has been launched. In comparison with studies of Michelin-starred chefs QSR development teams use an approach that is much more explicitly structured as a whole due to the larger scale roll-out as well as greater cross-functional and regional differences to consider in the QSR setting. Research limitations/implications – The study was conducted in only one country and on a small sample. Based on an analysis of the findings, the innovation development process of QSR can be broken down into 13 main steps. Compared with earlier hospitality innovation studies, the process in this setting includes multiple screenings for high-risk



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