This post summarizes the results of a research undertaken by Eric Vernette, Professor at the Center for Research in Management (CRM), University of Toulouse Capitole: "Assessing the role of Lead users and Emergent Nature consumers in co-creation activities: method and marketing attractiveness", October, 2011. The present study was carried out in a joint research program with eYeka. Respondents were drawn from the qualified database from a leading panel provider. The sample comprised 995 French (older than 16 years old) respondents selected following the quota method (age, region, gender and education level). Data analysis was realized by Eric Vernette and Linda Hamdi (PhD Student at the CRM, University of Toulouse Capitole)
In this first post we show how to screen the right consumers for co-creation via self-assessment scales. In a second one, we report results about the engagement in co-creation activities and respective skills of French consumers.
Who are these consumers?
Results of academic research suggest two kinds of consumers:
(1) Consumers who are high in Emergent Nature (Hoffman et al., 2010), ie. have the unique capability to imagine or envision how concepts might be further developed so that they will be successful in the mainstream marketplace.
(2) Lead users (Von Hippel, 1986) are consumers who are (1) ahead of the general market trend, meaning that they experience needs that the rest of the market will face months or years later and who (2) “expect high benefits” from a solution to their advanced needs which may lead them to innovate. Generally, the lead user construct is supposed to be product-specific or domain-specific. In this research, it is not the case; we suggest a generalized construct “a user who faces needs before the other consumers and who has innovative ideas to obtain a solution to those needs”.
How to identify these key actors?
In this study, the “Emergent nature” construct was measured with an 8-item scale from Hoffman et al. (2010) rated on a five point-scale (1=strongly disagree and 5= strongly agree).
1. When I hear about a new product or service idea, it is easy to imagine how it might be developed into an actual product or service.
3. When I see a new product or service idea, it is easy to visualize how it might fit into the life of an average person in the future.
4. If someone gave me a new product or service idea with no clear application, I could “fill in the blanks” so someone else would know what to do with it.
5. Even if I don’t see an immediate use for a new product or service, I like to imagine how people in general might use it in the future.
6. I like to experiment with new ideas for how to use products and services.
7. I like to find patterns in complexity.
8. I can picture how products and services of today could be improved to make them more appealing to the average person.
Consumer’s global lead userness was measured with four items adapted from Beji-Becheur, Goletty and Vernette’s scale (2011)— a measure initially developed to assess the product-specific lead userness— as following:
1. I regularly have special expectations or needs on products or services that are still not offered by firms.
3. Today, I finally find products or services on the marketplace that meet the needs I have expressed for a long time.
4. If my ideas are innovating compared to current practices for new product or service development.
We have considered as lead users or high in emergent nature those who scored in the Top 10 % (ie. first decile), a number that is consistent with previous studies. The threshold scores are respectively of 16 and 33 points.