How to identify needs, and adapt American new product concepts for successful marketing in Europe: A case study

Date of publication: June 15, 1991


This paper describes the evolution of a new chemical technology into both consumer and business-to-business product applications, by using graphic probe stimuli to help identify unmet needs. In a recent study, these "concept" probe stimuli, originally developed for U.S. markets, were subjected to several different European "cultural evaluations" to identify unmet needs, to refine the positionings, and to provide further guidance for the development of a larger study which would assess the marketing feasibility in those European cultures. The major difficulty for the researcher was identifying end-user needs in each culture, and then learning how to present the potential benefits of this new, unknown technology, which had numerous potential applications for both consumer and business-to-business products. The technology resulted in so many different potential applications, the sponsor, Eastman Kodak Company (Eastman Chemicals Company), needed further market-driven information to provide guidance for final research and development efforts. Because of the global and categorically-pervasive nature of the technology, which could literally result in new products and product improvements in many different categories, it was decided to initiate a global exploratory and evaluation of the potential. Eastman Kodak Company was not interested in marketing products directly, rather in licensing the technology to other companies who had established marketing capabilities in appropriate categories. Therefore, a rapid global and broad category approach was seen as advisable. A concern of both the researcher and the sponsor was how to properly evaluate the market potential for a new technology that had had no previous exposure, and for which potential end-users (consumers or business-to-business) had no perceptions of applications or benefits - no understanding of the new technology or of its potential for fulfilling their unmet needs. It was decided that first, we must identify unmet needs in the initial wave of research by using in-depth, graphic projective techniques.

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