We bring the market to the laboratory

Sustainability initiative: Market focus (MarketLab)

New technological developments form the basis for innovation. As a rule, however, they are not enough to guarantee market success. The customer is much more crucial here; innovations must meet their needs and offer more value than existing solutions. It is therefore essential to find out customer preferences early in the innovation process and to take them into account during product development. Studies show that companies spend 85% of their development time on products that are not successful on the market (source: study by Helmut Schmidt University, 2003). There is a lack of methods for predicting purchase decisions when products do not yet exist. To compound this difficulty, business purchasing decisions are often made jointly by several people. Many companies do not give adequate consideration to these risks, which leaves them in danger of making bad investments.

The aim of the MarketLab research project is to develop a methodology that makes it possible to survey customer preferences for new technical solutions that do not yet exist in reality: a market laboratory. Doing so provides companies with practical assistance in converting technological benefits into user benefits, and allows them to make necessary changes even during the innovation process.

This is accomplished by developing an internet-based tool that allows companies to survey potential customers about product developments. These potential customers are presented with alternative development solutions and their hypothetical prices, and asked to arrange them in order of preference. Where necessary, virtual reality is used when presenting the solutions. The preferences are then evaluated using a procedure developed at the IAS (multi-stage limit conjoint analysis) and benefits estimated for individual performance features. Several individuals involved in purchasing are surveyed for each customer, with the tool automatically consolidating their preferences so that group purchase decisions can be predicted.

The project complements Leading-Edge Cluster projects that have a technical focus by adding market and customer perspectives. By using the MarketLab, companies can make their innovation process effective and efficient, continuously adapt, and avoid investment in low-demand technologies. The basic MarketLab is available to all companies, and specific adaptations can be made. The MarketLab is applied outside the cluster by engineering firms and further education programs.

Project duration
01 July 2012 - 30 June 2017