The impact of customer involvement on new product development: contingent and
Cui & Wu
- An increasing number of companies are allowing customers to be actively involved in
the NPD process.
- While some studies argue that more reliance on customer inputs can help generate
creative ideas, improve product variety and enhance product performance, others
find that active customer involvement may not contribute to product success or may
even negatively impact product outcomes.
- This study aims to offer a more complete understanding of the contribution of
customer involvement to NPD outcomes. It views customer involvement as an
information source (CIS) and customer involvement as co-developers (CIC) as two
ways of utilizing customer information and characterizes their contrasting attributes
that may create different challenges for NPD.
- CIS is more beneficial for new product outcomes when the firm engages in higher
levels of experimentation.
- The effect of CIC is stronger when experimentation is at lower levels.
- When a firm uses CIC, highly experimental learning in NPD may compromise product
- CIS substitutes for the effect of CIC such that CIC has a positive effect on product
outcomes when the level of CIS is low but its effect is not significant when CIS is high.
Two forms of customer involvement
- In CIS, the NPD team gathers information on customers’ needs and wants by
listening to the customers. Role of information providers.
- In CIC, customers take part in the NPD process and develop new products together
with the internal NPD experts.
- Four differences between CIS and CIC:
o The role of customers in CIS is passive, whereas they play an active role in
o In CIS, the firm drives the NPD process because it determines the type of
information collected and takes responsibility of applying customer
information to product design. In CIC, the firm acts as a partner.
o In CIS, the interaction between customers and NPD employees is discrete:
limited to one time inquiry. In CIC, customer interaction is continuous: occurs
over an extended period of time.
o In CIS, customers only provide information on what they need. In CIS,
customers share information on both needs and solutions.
- Two implications for the use of customer information in NPD:
o The amount and nature of customer information obtained are different.
More in-depth and detailed information in CIC.
Higher chance of discovering new information in CIC.
o The amount of interdependence between NPD employees and the customers