Leveraging insights from the community into functional product design is a burgeoning new field in new product development called design crowdsourcing.
This increasingly popular crowdsourcing practice was recently the subject of an article in the Journal of Marketing by UTSA College of Business faculty members Suman Basuroy, Graham Weston Endowed Professor of Marketing, and Deepa Chandrasekaran, assistant professor of marketing; and B.J. Allen, Ph.D. ’17, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Arkansas.
The researchers explored how design crowdsourcing affects the new product development process; why companies choose to design crowdsource; and if the process has a positive impact on product performance and functional design.
Utilizing data from community-driven new product development websites, the researchers found that the process is helpful in several different types of scenarios.
“There is a growing popular movement of firms using customers or the community during the design phase, but we realized that there was very little academic research into this management trend,” said Chandrasekaran. “Design crowdsourcing brings in novel and fresh solutions to design problems. It allows companies to hear from real people and helps achieve diversity of perspectives.”
Their findings generated three implications for business managers. First, managers can maintain greater control of the product while also creating slack for their research and development team. Design crowdsourcing also allows a greater number of ideas to move through the development pipeline by using the community’s assistance in making (initially) less promising ideas marketable. Finally, by utilizing this process the perceived reliability and usability of the product increases.
“Not much has been written about design crowdsourcing,” said Chandrasekaran. “But through our research and interviews with industry experts we found that it is changing the way new products are being developed, particularly in small companies. There are still a lot of questions that are unanswered. We plan on continuing our research in this exciting new area of marketing.”