The value of crowdsourcing: can users really compete with professionals in generating
new product ideas?
Poetz & Schreier
- Consumers might be too accustomed to current consumption conditions, thus
prevailing them from predicting and shaping the future.
- However, users often innovate for themselves and many of those user innovations
are characterized by high commercial attractiveness.
- Crowdsourcing: to outsource the phase of idea generation to a potentially large and
unknown population, referred to as the crowd, in the form of an open call.
- Crowdsourcing relies on a self-selection process among users willing and able to
respond to widely broadcast idea generation competitions.
- Research question: how attractive are new product ideas generated by users
through a crowdsourcing process compared with new product ideas generated by a
Background: why users might (not) be able to compete with professionals
- User input for idea generation might come in two forms:
o Needs-based information: market research might reveal user needs that are
not yet met by commercially available products. This might serve as a starting
point for a firm’s professionals to guide their idea generation efforts.
o Solution-based information: asking users not only about their problems but
also about potential ways to solve them.
- Users could help in defining what a new potential product should do, but they might
be less valuable in defining how it should work.
- Besides creative thinking skills and motivation, the expertise of R&D and marketing
personnel is a central driver for generating novel and useful ideas.
- The more competence and experience investors possess, the higher the expected
quality of their solutions will be.
- Local search behavior: relying exclusively on internal expertise and knowledge bases
when generating ideas for new products.
- Firms that rely too heavily on their internal expertise might be blocked from finding
alternative, potentially more successful solutions.
- Beyond a certain point, the additional exploitation of internal expertise will lead to a
drop in new product output.
- The extent to which a firm explores external knowledge is positively related to
successful new product innovation.
- Users, rather than manufacturers, were often the initial developers of products that
later gained commercial significance.
- Professionals are more driven by a convergent thinking style that results in less novel
- Bamed/MAM group was the sample: leading company in the baby products market.
- Company-internal idea generation led to a total of 51 ideas.