In recent years, there have been many reports of “User Innovation”, in which companies and consumers that are users of products and services develop and improve these products and services for their own use. However, there is also a reality that these user innovations are not being effectively leveraged throughout society. In this environment, pioneering companies are leveraging user innovation. There are two typical approaches: the “Lead User Method”, in which companies search for cutting-edge users who are highly likely to generate commercially attractive innovations; and the “Crowdsourcing Method”, in which companies openly solicit publicly through the Internet, and users can post their own solutions. However, despite many pioneering efforts and progress with research in this area, user innovation approaches are still not well established. Therefore, we have dedicated this special issue to the theme of “How to Leverage User Innovation by Companies”, with four invited peer-reviewed papers. Finally, on a personal note, I would like to greet you as the new Editor-in-Chief of the Japan Marketing Journal. I was appointed to this position in April this year.
In this paper, we discuss co-innovation between Lead Users and Producers. To practically apply the user innovation theory to product development, two methods have been used: the lead user method and user-community based theory. Recently, community-based methods have become main stream in this field of research. On the other hand, the lead user method has been less noticed. In this paper, we show the significance and problems of the co-innovation between lead users and producers through interpreting a case of the development process of an innovative skating blade by a top figure skater from the two perspectives: lead user theory and the sticky information hypothesis.
This research aims to explore the effective incentive for user innovators to achieve collective innovation between a company and users. This paper applied in-depth interviews for 17 participants of a user community that is organized by Apple and specific to education. As a result, the participants clearly showed the characteristics of lead users, and the connection with other lead users was the most effective incentive for participation within the community. The firm motivated the participants both extrinsically and intrinsically and activated the community. They achieved collective innovations in education and consequently, contributed to society.
The purpose of this paper was to examine the significance and feasibility of user innovation in healthcare. First, we identified the classification and diversity of user innovators and user innovation. Next, based on this classification, we considered the feasibility of user innovation in healthcare. User innovation aimed at improving the quality of life of patients and those affecting the property of patients are considered to be highly feasible. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult for individual patients to develop drugs that act directly on the patient’s body. This is because for patients, barriers are very high in terms of expertise, equipment, costs, lead times, and regulations. It is practical for patient groups, not individual patients, to introduce subjects for a clinical trial to pharmaceutical companies, and to propose the design of clinical trials from the patient’s perspective. In Japan, there have been some cases in which patient groups and research institutes, such as universities, have cooperated to design clinical trials. However, there have been few cases in which patient groups and pharmaceutical companies cooperated. It is expected that collaboration among patient groups, research institutes and pharmaceutical companies will progress in the future.
Many Japanese retailers consider that the development of unique own-brand products is important in the current fierce competition between retailers. In previous research, the volume of sales and consumer information generated at each store have become the main sources of attractive product development by retailers, which tend to be inferior to manufacturers with respect to the capacity for product development. In addition, this article discusses the potential of user innovation developed by salespersons in stores. On the assumption that many lead users are embedded among the retailers as salespersons, two case studies were conducted focusing on the chain store retailers of sports gear and grocery supermarkets. We showed that the existence of new product development outcomes can be obtained through lead users (i.e., salespersons), and also that there is effective activity of user innovation through another type of management, crowdsourcing from salesperson at stores. This article suggests that utilization of user innovation contributes to effective product development outcomes for many retailers.
A growing number of consumers are participating in the new product development process with companies. Companies can both obtain product ideas from users and also increase the purchase intent of consumers who see information about the product that has been conceived of by an actual user. Consumers infer the quality of products when they see a display in which product ideas are created by users rather than companies. In this paper, we describe this quality inference as an “Originator Effect” and review the relevant prior research. The previous investigations have been based on the following two trends: (1) mediating factor research to explore the background of the “Originator Effect”, and (2) boundary condition research to investigate the conditions under which the “Originator Effect” is lost. In addition, among future investigations to expand the “Originator Effect” research, the author claims three subjects: (1) investigations of mediation factors, (2) investigations of boundary conditions, and (3) investigations of both mediation factors and boundary conditions.
Japan has one of the largest poultry industries in the world. To meet the high demands for eggs, many types of mass production methods have been developed. In contrast, a number of high-quality brands of eggs have been launched. Among them, the Oenosato Natural Farm (managed by Hiyoko Company) located in Yazu Town, Tottori Prefecture is currently the most successful company in Japan; supplying a high volume of highly priced, high-quality eggs, named Tenbiran. It should be noted that this firm is successful not only in selling eggs, but also in providing various foods made from eggs, as well as restraint services and agricultural experience tours—although Yazu Town is located far from Tokyo and other big markets. Why is the firm successful? To answer the question, this paper analyzes the firm’s business model.