ADVANTAGES OF INVOLVING USERS IN THE INNOVATION PROCESS

The major advantage of involving users in the innovation process is the convergence of ideas and efforts to match exactly buyer’s needs. The specification of certain characteristics in some products allows manufacturers to develop and improve, products that capture common users attention and also users whose needs are based in more detailed products and for whom specific products are not easy to find. In this way a more demanding parcel of the market is addressed and captured.

Although designed to satisfy a rather strict community of users, to whom the strategy of “few sizes fit all” does not adequate (Von Hipel, 2006), user product innovations are expected to benefit directly their developers, while manufacturers only expect to benefit by selling their products, a fact that increases innovators impel to create novel products. Directly involving users in the product design process can be seen as an advantage, as customer ideas can complement the R&D performed in the company, improving productivity of new products. Users can also be good allies in establishing the optimum price/performance combination and, if the relations established with the customer at an early stage are good, the interaction manufacturer-customer may extend throw the life cycle of the introduced innovation. In fact several studies have found that commercially viable products tend to be developed by “lead-users” that anticipate market needs and develop products from which they expect to benefit greatly. (Baldwin, Hiernerth and Von Hippel, 2005)

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