Maximizing Product Innovation through Adaptive Application of User-Centered Methods for Defining Customer Value

Tonje Overvik Olsen, Torgeir Welo


Establishing deep understanding of customers is a prerequisite to improve success rates of innovations under today’s transient business conditions. This paper summarizes methods and tools to increase customer understanding in new product development. A case study of developing an office chair was conducted, utilizing four such methods (web based survey, interview, observation and workshops) to provide directions for later application. Results indicate that methods revealing emotionally-related customer information (workshops and observation) are resource-intensive and provide less amount of information directly applicable to the product development team. The opposite is the case for methods providing more functionally-related information (web based survey and interview). The overall conclusion is that the latter methods are more suitable for product improvements, while the former may provide valuable information for creating more differentiated products.


product innovation; customer-focus; user involvement; methods; strategies; case study; web based survey; interview; observation; participatory design

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