3 KEEPING UP WITH THE VIRTUAL VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER—SOCIAL MEDIA APPLICATIONS IN PRODUCT INNOVATION

Anna Dubiel

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

Tim Oliver Brexendorf

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

Sebastian Glöckner

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

3.1 Introduction

The development of market-oriented new products with a clearly defined, unique selling proposition is vital for successful innovators. Products that do not meet customer needs at competitive prices fail. Traditionally, in-house R&D departments using the firm's proprietary resources were solely responsible for delivering a steady stream of such new products. Several well-known R&D institutions like AT&T's Bell Labs and Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center provide evidence to the viability of such an internal R&D strategy. In the last two decades, however, pioneering firms like P&G and 3M have realized that there is vast additional innovation potential dozing outside the company walls. Tapping external stakeholders as a complementary source of innovation and thus opening up a firm's new product development (NPD) activities is becoming increasingly important today. Mobilizing customers, suppliers, or outside researchers helps to better develop new products and thus minimize failure risk. Among such external stakeholders, customers are often key actors. However, listening to the voice of the customer (VoC) poses serious challenges to NPD teams, because identifying the needs of the customer and ...

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