Marketing Professor’s Research Wins Best Paper Award

For companies willing to take multiple stabs at designing a new product, researchers have found that using customers only as a source of information often leads to an innovative product that will hold a marketplace advantage. What doesn’t drive innovation or marketplace advantage, surprisingly, is getting customers right in the thick of things to actually assist in creating the product.

Fang Wu

Fang Wu, clinical professor in marketing at the Naveen Jindal School of Management, found that companies willing to take an “experimental new-product-design approach” ended up with products that were more innovative and better positioned in the marketplace if they used customers simply as an information source, rather than allowing customers to get involved as “co-developers.” This was true for companies willing to make multiple iterations of a product before bringing it to market.

The UT Dallas professor, along with her co-author, Anna Cui, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, won a best paper award for their research which noted that technology now allows designers to cost-effectively move through several versions of a product while taking into account customer inputs. Asking customers to provide information — but no more — allowed designers to come up with more innovative and market-friendly products.

To reach their conclusions, the professors surveyed members of the Product Development and Management Association and evaluated 184 valid responses. The respondents represented managers and executives from healthcare organizations and various industries, including consumer packaged goods, information technology, manufacturing, telecommunications and utilities.

The women’s research paper, “The Impact of Customer Involvement on New Product Outcomes: The Contingent Role of an Experimental Product Development Approach,” won the 2014 Product Development and Management Association Research Forum best paper award. The forum was held Oct. 18 and 19 in Denver.