Lead User Innovation

The term ‘Lead User Innovation’ created by Eric von Hippel in 1986. von Hippel (2017) indicated that ‘lead user’ customers, not producers, are the real pioneers who create multiple radically new products and services. For instance, sports such as skateboarding, mountain biking were first developed and created by those lead users who participated in these sports. These major users have been working together for years to build their own equipment, technology, rules and competitions before the producers participate. The figure 1 below has shown that manufacturers will benefit from users who create products for free, using it as a library of new ideas as well as a source of innovation. Therefore, it is necessary to develop methods to systematically find, screen and commercialize leading user-developed innovations.

lead user innovation

The aim of lead user innovation

developing products, services or business models that are particularly close to the market, customer-oriented and adapted to the end user.

Characteristics of lead user needs

Lead users particularly benefit from innovation because they are not satisfied with existing products or processes on the market. Hence, they benefit greatly from new products, new developments.


How to apply lead user innovation in service case (Udemy)

Lead users are those who have identified needs before they exist in the market. For lead users, solutions are necessary, so they must innovate and create some solutions to meet their needs. When creating a solution, others will like it and also want to start producing it.

After our group did the preliminary research about Udemy, we identified the gap how to build a trust relationship between education platforms and users, Convincing users to participate in your online course and be satisfied with it. This is the key to the success of the E-learning system, while lead user method can be a critical tool to achieve the establishment of trust relationship.

The lead user method assists you to integrate particularly advanced users into the creation process. As for Udemy, instead of doing marketing research and building trust by producers themselves, they can find some target lead user to participate in the process. Observing how users choose courses they trust without the assistance of any education platform (identify the key points key points that users believe a trusted online course requires), as they may search for prestigious instructor and brand courses through the google search engine. Then we can build a trust relationship between Udemy and users through lead user innovation.