Competency Group: Business
Description: The Lead User Method is a market research tool. It may be used by people seeking to develop breakthrough products. In contrast to the traditional market research techniques that collect information from the users at the center of the target market, the Lead User method takes a different approach. It collects information about both needs and solutions from the leading edges of the target market and from analogue markets, markets facing similar problems in a more extreme form.
Citation for Description: Lead user. (2011). Retrieved from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_user.
Units: Insightful data pointing towards the highest achievable operability of a new product or service
Advantages: The main group of people who are using this tool are developing breakthrough products. In doing so, this voice of the customer method captures the most extreme customer data, hence leading to very honed design criteria.
Limitations: Can be difficult to schedule expert users. Some design criteria may be unrealizable.
Target Audience: Top management, Marketing, R&D
Relevant to Universal Design: Yes
Stages and Steps: 1.1, 1.2
Free Resource: Von Hippels, E. (2011). Section 1: Innovation by users and lead users. Retrieved from http://web.mit.edu/evhippel/www/papers/evh-01.htm.
Free Resource: Mammone, R. (2010). To find an unmet need, use lead user analysis. Retrieved from Bloomberg BusinessWeek website: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/tips/archives/2010/02/to_find_an_unmet_need_use_lead_user_analysis.html.