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Innovation Strategies: User Research with Existing Customers

All too often companies research their own current customers exclusively and fail to talk to non-customers. Additionally, some companies fall into the trap of asking existing customers what else they would like to buy from them. In some cases, especially with high-tech or new-to-world products, customers can be of little help to companies when determining whether or not to proceed with an innovation. While fuzzy front-end user research works well for most products, it tends not to work well for radically or completely disruptive innovations. For example, after World War II, IBM asked a consulting firm to find out if customers might be interested in a computer. The consulting firm reported back that no one really wanted a computer. Had IBM listened, the computer would not have been made.

Similarly, Henry Ford once said, "Had I asked customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse."


1. Explain why and how user research with existing customers can prevent true innovation.

Compose your answer as an MS Word document (Arial 12).

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Prevention by Existing Customers

The user research with existing customers can prevent true innovation due to several reasons. It is generally argued that organizations fall in trap due to their limited emphasis over the existing customers in the user research The existing large customer may have their large investment in organization's current infrastructure (Bidgoli, 2010). They feel that switching cost from current to new infrastructure may be higher for them, if organization uses radical innovation in its current system (Bao, 2009). Due to this reason, the existing customers can prevent true radical changes.

The other reason is that existing customers are satisfied with current infrastructure. They may live in dilemma that new infrastructure may or may not satisfy their needs and preferences in an effective manner (Bao, 2009). So, due to this reason, user research on existing customers generally prevents the marketers for true innovation. The value creation, service efficacy and level of satisfaction of existing customers if high with current infrastructure of the organization, it is possible that they may not contribute their efforts in giving new ideas (Sloane, 2007).

This aspect can ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides a sample essay explaining how user research with existing customers can prevent transformative innovation.