Involving Lead Users in Innovation: A Structured Summary of Research on the Lead User Method

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Research on the lead user method has been conducted for more than thirty years and has shown that the method is more likely to generate breakthrough innovation than traditional market research tools. Based on a systematic literature review, this paper shows a detailed view on the broad variety of research on lead user characteristics, lead user processes, lead user identification and application, and success factors. The main challenge of the lead user method as identified in literature is the resource issue regarding time, manpower, and costs. Also, internal acceptance and the processing of the method have been spotted in literature, as well as the intellectual property protection issue. From the starting point of the initial lead user method process introduced by Lüthje and Herstatt (2004), results are integrated into a revisited view on the lead user method process. In addition, concrete suggestions for corporate realization options are given. The article closes with limitations and future research suggestions.

Article number1850022
JournalInternational Journal of Innovation and Technology Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Lead user, lead user method, lead user workshop, user innovation, user involvement