Both authors contributed equally. We would like to thank Felix Klobassa, Stephan Roehrig, and Herfried Schwarz for their valuable help in realizing this study, the Bamed/MAM group for their cooperation, and especially Peter Roehrig, Sabine Beer, and Thomas Rohaczek for the time and effort they invested in this project. We also thank Lars Bo Jeppesen, Eric von Hippel, and the participants in the DRUID conference for their comments and feedback on earlier versions of this paper. Finally, we are grateful for the very helpful suggestions made by the editor, Tony di Benedetto, and the two reviewers.
The Value of Crowdsourcing: Can Users Really Compete with Professionals in Generating New Product Ideas?†
Article first published online: 20 JAN 2012
© 2012 Product Development & Management Association
Journal of Product Innovation Management
Volume 29, Issue 2, pages 245–256, March 2012
How to Cite
Poetz, M. K. and Schreier, M. (2012), The Value of Crowdsourcing: Can Users Really Compete with Professionals in Generating New Product Ideas?. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 29: 245–256. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00893.x
- Issue published online: 20 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 20 JAN 2012
Generating ideas for new products used to be the exclusive domain of marketers, engineers, and/or designers. Users have only recently been recognized as an alternative source of new product ideas. Whereas some have attributed great potential to outsourcing idea generation to the “crowd” of users (“crowdsourcing”), others have clearly been more skeptical. The authors join this debate by presenting a real-world comparison of ideas actually generated by a firm's professionals with those generated by users in the course of an idea generation contest. Both professionals and users provided ideas to solve an effective and relevant problem in the consumer goods market for baby products. Executives from the underlying company evaluated all ideas (blind to their source) in terms of key quality dimensions including novelty, customer benefit, and feasibility. The study reveals that the crowdsourcing process generated user ideas that score significantly higher in terms of novelty and customer benefit, and somewhat lower in terms of feasibility. However, the average values for feasibility—in sharp contrast to novelty and customer benefit—tended to be relatively high overall, meaning that feasibility did not constitute a narrow bottleneck in this study. Even more interestingly, it is found that user ideas are placed more frequently than expected among the very best in terms of novelty and customer benefit. These findings, which are quite counterintuitive from the perspective of classic new product development (NPD) literature, suggest that, at least under certain conditions, crowdsourcing might constitute a promising method to gather user ideas that can complement those of a firm's professionals at the idea generation stage in NPD.