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Die kraft der hidden needs

Lemke, Fred and Cserba, Martin (2005) Die kraft der hidden needs. Advisory – Das Magazin für unternehmerische Kompetenz. p. 11.

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In today's competitive environment, companies in both the manufacturing and service sectors need to constantly develop new products. However, many new products fail because they neither excite customers nor adequately address their needs. Traditional forms of market research, including surveys and focus groups are suitable for identifying ideas for incremental innovations but ineffective at identifying radical customer requirements. Many customers are unaware of or unable to articulate their needs (therefore the term "hidden needs") and so enhanced methods of market research are required. Methods are being developed in industry based on techniques from anthropology and psychology. When such techniques are used in new product development projects they are known as empathic design (creating empathy in the design team for the customer's world). There have been few studies of empathic design and so there is ample opportunity for doctoral research. The project is expected to involve three components. Firstly the range of methods currently being used by companies should be identified and understood. Secondly, the utility of key methods should be empirically tested. (Do techniques such as observation and contextual interviewing uncover hidden needs?) Thirdly, the way enhanced market research methods can best be utilized in new product development projects needs to be rigorously studied.