Lead User Innovation Identification: Rapid Semantic Analyses of User-Generated Content
37 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2018 Last revised: 8 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 1, 2018
Prior research has established that lead users, both industrial and consumer, innovate ahead of general market demand. Producers have an interest in identifying and selectively commercializing innovations developed by lead users. However, many are deterred by the difficulty and cost of lead user identification methods developed to date. In this paper we describe a novel application of semantic word space models and semantic network analyses to identify user innovations in user-generated content posted openly on the internet. Investigators using this method need not prespecify either the need or solution that a lead user innovation must address. For this reason they can identify novel need-solution pairs (NSPs) as well as innovative solutions to needs previously known to searchers.
We test and demonstrate the method in the consumer product field of kite-surfing equipment. We find it to be several-fold faster and more effective than preexisting techniques, quickly identifying both incremental and more radical consumer-developed innovations, including some offering unusual need-solution pairings not previously widely known. We propose that method we describe will be found to be very generally applicable to searches for innovations developed by lead user consumers and other types of innovators. We conclude with suggestions for further research, and with a discussion of implications for innovation research and practice.
Keywords: user innovation, lead user, user-generated
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