User Development

It can be extremely useful to include a variety of user segments in the User Development Process. It's a good idea, for example, to work with a range of users from the most expert to the most novice. The experts will offer cutting-edge creative input, and the novices will offer unfettered, unjaded development contributions.

Lead Users. Lead Users push the envelope. They know the latest news on products, technologies, and style. Whether they are individuals, groups, or companies, they spawn trends. They are the first on the block to play with hair color and sport orange hair (voluntarily), the first to fiddle with a computer to make it do a new thing, the first to ask for bleached teeth, the first with the hottest new car, or the first to self-tan. They are ahead of the market.

Lead Users will more easily understand new concepts, intricacies, and idiosyncrasies of the product category.

Many significant innovations can be attributed to lead users. Because they c are out on the edge, Lead Users need things before everyone else does. Their new ideas come from pondering a problem or a potential solution, from playing around with components, from modifying and mixing to satisfy their own special require ments. Lead Users are the first to dream about multifunctionality and the first to try it.

Product developers can learn much from Lead Users, discovering ideas for new products and new improvements for existing products. Lead Users are an extremely valuable resource. In essence, they are developers themselves, and they far outnumber marketing and R&D executives.

Base Users. Base Users are typical customers. They range around the hump of the bell curve. They may or may not be relatively homogeneous—there can be multiple segments. They use products that have been well established by more advanced Lead Users. For example, they are the sea of glossy lips after the fashionistas have moved on to matte.

Potential Customers virgins and neophytes. These are potential customers, who can still be outside or just barely inside the target market. They can be too young. They can be uninitiated. They can be in a different economic bracket. They do not yet use anything in your category—For example, a 10-year-old girl not yet using makeup or a twenty-something with not even the slightest need for wrinkle reducers. What might they hope for or fantasize about? What are their impressions of current products and users?

competitors' customers. Their hearts belong to someone else. For now.

Non-Users. These are people who do not use any products in your category, either as a matter of choice or because of lack of awareness—for instance, women who never go to the salon and men who never wear moisturizer; or manufacturers who never use silicone ingredients.

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