I have to be stupid … I just PAID to be part of Kettle Chips market research (updated – including a chart what user innovation is not)

Kettle Chips Tasting SiteI just did it. I just paid 16.90 USD to help a commercial food company with their market research. Instead of receiving free samples, I paid for five new potential flavors of Kettle Chips, the flagship product of Salem, OR, based Kettle Foods Inc. I am also committed to provide my free feedback and input to the company.

Paid!After reading about Kettle Foods‘ initiative

[http://straightupflavor.com] on the consumer empowerment blog, I had to give it a try:

„Online Polling as a way of deciding on which new product variant to launch is not new, but Kettle Chips are at it again, and with a twist – the program funds itself. Their People’s Choice initiative involves inviting consumers to pay to order samples of a limited run (read exclusive) of potential new line extensions (new flavors) – and then vote on their favorite, which will then get commercialized! Self funding NPD – now that’s smart!“

This is really about utilizing the consumers‘ demand to raise their voice and become active. This is somehow a light version of Threadless‘ business model (see previous postings).

Update: I promised to keep you posted when the sample package arrives. I got it already last week, here it my report:

KettleWell, you don’t really suffer too much as a contributing customer for Kettle. What you get are five really big packages of chips. So it seems to be more a way to sell variety with some market testing included… There is plenty of information on the five flavors, 6 voting cards with a very simple scale, and a small pledge to go to their web site and report your favorite variety. I just learned that in regard to chips, I prefer to stay with the good old plain ones.

What_is_not_user_innovationPS: For all academic readers interested in definitions: This case is a good example to explain what is open/user innovation and what not: Kettle’s sample event is NOT open innovation or user innovation — but good old market research in a new way. Eric von Hippel (MIT) recently put it into this nice chart: User innovators (lead users) develop a product by their own for their own use — as they have a need not fulfilled sufficiently by the existing manufacturers. Manufacturers may discover this prototype and decide to transfer it into their domain. They may also invest in methods like innovation toolkits to foster user innovation. But the source of the innovation is the user.

Manufacturer innovation, on the other hand, is based on the perception of a manufacturer of what customers may want, in-house development, and market testing to find out if the stuff the engineers developed is really what users wanted. User Innovators focus on needs not perceived by the major market (lead users are trendsetters ahead of the crowd), while manufacturing innovation tend to focus on the major target market.

So, even if Kettle has an innovative way to conduct its market research and integrates users deeper into the process (by letting them pay and thus, perhaps, increasing their commitment to rate the chips better), this process stays within the traditional manufacturing-active paradigm.

By | 2018-05-07T15:34:34+00:00 Februar 28th, 2006|Crowdsourcing, Failures and Flaws, Open/User Innovation|

About the Author:

Frank T. Piller is a Co-Director of the MIT Smart Customization Group at the MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and a chair professor of management at the Technology & Innovation Management Group of RWTH Aachen University, Germany, one of Europe’s leading institutes of technology. Before entering his recent position in Aachen, he worked at the MIT Sloan School of Management (2004-2007) and has been an associate professor of management at TUM Business School, Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Frequently quoted in The New York Times, The Economist, and Business Week, amongst others, Frank is regarded as one of the leading experts on strategies for customer-centric value creation, like mass customization, personalization, and innovation co-creation. His recent analysis of the crowdsourcing business model “Threadless” (co-authored with Susumu Ogawa), an innovative crowdsourcing business model in the fashion industry, has been elected as one of the Top-20 articles in MIT Sloan Management Review.