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Identifying Customer Needs: Disabled Persons as Lead Users

[+] Author Affiliations
Pia Hannukainen

Helsinki University of Technology, TKK, Finland

Katja Hölttä-Otto

University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, North Dartmouth, MA

Paper No. DETC2006-99043, pp. 243-251; 9 pages
  • ASME 2006 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4a: 18th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, September 10–13, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4258-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3784-X
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME


In product development it is essential to understand what users need. But as current users are functionally fixed, they are not able to provide information that would help develop breakthrough products. Lead users — users that currently experience needs still unknown to the public — are better able to identify and communicate their needs, but identifying lead users is difficult. We show through a case study on mobile phones that extraordinary users, disabled persons in this example, can be seen as lead users. We show how these extraordinary users do experience similar needs as the ordinary users and, in addition, the extraordinary users experience, and are able to communicate, needs that the ordinary users do not yet have, and thus extraordinary users are a valuable resource in customer need identification.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME



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