While much research has emphasized improving current new product concept techniques, little work has focused on trait-based approaches that specify which consumers are the “right” ones to use in the new product development process, particularly in the consumer goods industry. We propose that the right consumers to use for new product concept development possess what we call an “emergent nature,” defined as the unique capability to imagine or envision how concepts might be developed so that they will be successful in the mainstream marketplace. We draw on research on personality theory and information processing styles to support our conceptualization and develop and validate a highly reliable scale to measure emergent nature (study 1). In subsequent multi-part studies we show in both group (studies 2a-2c) and individual settings (studies 3a and 3b) across the two distinct product categories of home delivery and oral care that consumers high in emergent nature are able to develop product concepts that mainstream consumers will find significantly more appealing and useful compared to concepts developed by typical, lead user or even innovative consumers.
Keywords: Concept Development, New Products, Information Processing, Personality Traits, Lead Users, Dispositional Innovativeness