Disabled Users as Lead Users in Product Innovation: A Literature Overview

DS 81: Proceedings of NordDesign 2014, Espoo, Finland 27-29th August 2014

Year: 2014
Editor: Miko Laakso, Kalevi Ekman
Author: Conradie, Peter; De Couvreur, Lieven; Saldien, Jelle; De Marez, Lieven
Series: NordDESIGN
Institution: Ghent University, Belgium
Section: Users in design and development
Page(s): 284-293
ISBN: 978-1-904670-58-2


Lead users can be a valuable source for innovation. They are capable of detecting and experiencing needs before the general market does, and are willing to innovate because they can gain significant benefits if their needs are fulfilled. Several authors have highlighted the use of disabled persons, framed as lead users, to foster innovation in new product development. In this article, we review 18 cases where disabled users are framed as lead users, identifying common characteristics within these cases. The characteristics include the product categories where disabled lead user innovation occurs and how lead users were involved in these cases. Additionally, we look at the selection process of disabled lead users and how this relates to the classic approach of lead user innovation. Finally, we propose further opportunities for lead user innovation using disabled persons, and the challenges facing research in this domain.

Keywords: Lead users, product innovation, methods, disabled persons


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