Marion Poetz and Martin Schreier examined ideas for new baby products developed by average customers and compared them to products designed by a world renowned team of in-house product developers for a large multinational corporation.
The researchers chose the Austrian company BamedMam (www.mambaby.com) to participate in the study. BamedMam sells 40 million products in over 30 countries and employs 400 people globally. The firm has won global design prizes and it known for their innovative products.
Seventy customers submitted their product ideas on the company website with the opportunity to earn free products in a raffle.
The BamedMam CEO and Director of R&D assessed all the ideas using set criteria for evaluation purposes. The ideas were grouped by topic and then randomly ordered so the evaluators did not know who had developed the idea, a customer or an in-house employee. Each idea was evaluated based on a five point scale for 1) novelty 2) problem solving ability and 3) feasibility.
The study found that the customer ideas were more novel and more effective in solving customer problems. The professionals scored higher on feasibility, but lower than customers on the overall quality measure (Poetz & Schreier, 2012). The bottom line is that customers may have better knowledge of their needs and how to solve them than professional developers.
Something for companies to think about huh?