Information about Lead User research
Leaduser.com provides useful information links for those interested in academic lead user research, or interested in lead user consulting projects for firms involving graduate student training or research.
What is a lead user?
Prof. Eric von Hippel coined the term "lead user" in 1986 for a specific type of user of a product or service having two characteristics: (1) They are at the leading edge of important market trends and; (2) they have a strong incentive to find solutions for the novel needs they encounter at the leading edge. Due to these characteristics, research from numerous scholars has repeatedly shown that:
- Lead users often have to develop the new products and services they need for themselves - they become user-innovators;
- Products that lead users develop often become the basis for important commercial products when lead user needs become mainstream.
What makes lead users so important for innovation management?
The creativeness and innovativeness of lead users makes them an unusual rich source of new product ideas and concepts for companies striving for innovative offerings.
- The so called "Lead User Method" is a technique that facilitates the identification and integration of lead users. In a recent study it was found that projects based on this method resulted in eight times higher projected sales than projects with traditional methods.
- The internet allows user-to-user interaction at lower transaction cost, a development that adds a special momentum to the import of the lead user phenomenon.
This series of 6 short (10-14 minute) videos offer practical information about lead user studies. Each video addresses one major aspect of a lead user project.
The video series was written, produced and directed by Dr. Joan Churchill, a psychologist specializing in industrial training materials. They were made with support from 3M Corporation, and are offered here with permission from Prof. Eric von Hippel.
Video 1 : Overview of the lead user process
Video 2 : Launching your lead user study
Video 3 : Interviewing methods for lead user project teams
Video 4 : Identifying emerging market needs
Video 5 : Identifying lead users
Video 6 : Developing solution concepts
Lead user research
Lead user research is now an important area for academic study and industrial practice. Several leading academic research groups worldwide focus on this area. Links to their websites are posted below.
- All listed websites offer access to academic papers on lead user research.
- ome listed websites offer firms some form of lead user project consulting services - often as research or training projects for their graduate students.