Keywords: cooperation, customer involvement, innovation, new product development
Customers' perspectives of involvement in new product development
The involvement of customers in new product development is considered as a successful strategy and tactic to improve new product success. However, the customers' view of this involvement is much less frequently studied than the suppliers' side. In the present paper, the customers' perspective is taken. It is first shown that the locus of initiative for product development involvement is of relevance for identifying different types of involvement. It is then argued that the degree of involvement needs to be measured. Furthermore, since customers have different expertise, they should be chosen according to their ability to appreciate the degree of newness of the future product as well as their potential stage-specific contributions. Furthermore, the costs involved on the customers' side will call for a reward, and these costs might be influenced by the involvement of other customers, either those who compete for the same scarce resources or those who benefit from network effects. This could lead to specific conflicts. Based on available research, this paper conceptualises these problems and makes suggestions for further research. This research might lead not only to a better understanding of customers' behaviour but also to better planning of customer involvement from the suppliers' side. In future, suppliers will better understand the problems of customer involvement from this paper.