University of Twente Student Theses


Crowdsourcing for radical product innovation? : qualitative research on consumer involvement in the Dutch food industry

Broer, A.J. (2013) Crowdsourcing for radical product innovation? : qualitative research on consumer involvement in the Dutch food industry.

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Abstract:This study researches the involvement of consumers supporting radical product innovations in the Dutch food industry. The following central research question is formulated: How can consumer involvement, in particular crowdsourcing, be used to support successful radical product innovations in the Dutch food industry? Four research questions are formulated to answer this central research question. Through an analysis of eight radical product innovations, the first three research questions are answered. These questions focus on the consumer involvement technique and how the different companies organized the involvement. In order to validate the results of the specific consumer involvement technique crowdsourcing, four additional expert interviews are conducted with facilitator of research communities. These interviews are used to answer the fourth research question regarding the opportunities and challenges of crowdsourcing. The theoretical framework describes the fields of radical product innovation, consumer involvement and crowdsourcing. This results in a conceptual model of the consumer involvement process, visualizing all relevant variables and assumed relations between the variables. After several interviews and an extensive online research for radical new products, eight radical product innovations were selected for the case studies. These eight cases were analyzed through semi-structured interviews with company representatives and all available information online. Through three coding methods, the variable phase was identified as core category in the consumer involvement process. Through an analysis of all variables in the conceptual framework, an empirical model was developed based on the results of the case studies. Results show that six out of the eight companies involved consumers in their innovation process. The techniques which are used are similar in each innovation phase. In the discovery phase, consumers are involved with the use of concept tests, in the incubation phase with product tests and in the commercialization phase, professional taste tests are conducted. The underlying variables however, the type of consumers, stimulus, interaction and outcome of each technique differ from each other. Four company variables are included in the analysis and these result in interesting findings. Large differences exist between established and newly found companies in the number of consumer involvements in each innovation phase and how these companies deal with confidentiality. Results did not provide sufficient data about the involvement technique crowdsourcing. In order to validate the results obtained from the case studies, four additional interviews with experts were conducted. Based on these interviews, a conceptual model was developed to explore the field of crowdsourcing for radical product innovation. Besides the importance of the innovation phase, the type of consumer and the interaction; five internal challenges for companies are identified. This study validates the importance of the innovation phase in the consumer involvement process and that consumers are still used to test and validate products and concepts, rather than being used as sources of radical ideas. This study however identifies several new important relations in the consumer involvement process. Previous research did not include company variables in the analysis and results show that these variables influence the process to a large extent. Also the negative influence of confidentiality on the interaction represents an interesting finding. Interviews with experts and the specific characteristics of the food industry show that there are several opportunities for online consumer involvement, however offline involvement is necessary as consumers need to smell, taste and feel the product. However, with increasing opportunities for online involvement and consumers who want to be heard more and more, mostly internal issues function as barriers for crowdsourcing supporting radical product innovation.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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