Consumer-Driven Innovation Management
- Pp. 385-404 (20)Arcot Desai Narasimhalu and Shekhar Mitra
The evolution of human society leads to increased affluence and prosperity of certain populations, sometimes at the expense of well-established markets. Market leaders in products and services tend to be so focused on their current customer base that they are caught off guard with the changes in markets created by the evolution. These changes often go unnoticed until it is too late. The change in customer base often requires the repositioning of products and services through innovations, which address new and emerging markets. Some of these changes could potentially result in tectonic market shifts that force innovation managers to involve current and future customer bases in order to help understand the opportunities that can lead to innovation. The nature of these innovations could span the range from addressing the mundane needs of developing countries to meeting the wishful aspirations of mature markets. Firms are often at a loss on when and how to use customer-inspired insights in the goal to create new innovations. Innovation management takes on a new art form that engages customers, allowing them to reveal their unmet needs. Such a fuzzy front-end process demands new engagement styles and structures that are less obvious to those who use traditional tools such as surveys and focus group research. This chapter identifies the challenges faced by firms in responding to a less-traversed approach toward using customers to identify innovation opportunities, and suggests methods to manage such challenges.