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:

Development of leaduser products over time

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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.

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Video tutorials

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

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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.

Country Department/Initiative University
International userinnovation.mit.edu  
Australia School of Marketing University of New South Wales
Austria User Innvoation Research Initiative Vienna Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration
Germany Lehrstuhl für Marketing und Innovationsmanagement - Institut für Wirtschaftswissenschaften Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus
Germany Technologie & Innovationsmanagement Hamburg-Harburg University of Technology
Germany Institute for Innovation Research, Technology Management and Entrepreneurship Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
Germany Schöller Chair in Technology and Innovation Management Munich University of Technology
Germany Lehrstuhl für Technologie und Innovationsmanagment RWTH Aachen University>
Switzerland Institute for Marketing and Business Management - IMU-Innovation University of Bern
United Kingdom Centre for Research in Innovation Management University of Brighton
USA Technology and Operations Management Unit Harvard Business School
USA Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group MIT Sloan School of Management
USA Foster School of Business - Management & Organization Group University of Washington

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