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The Virtual Customer

Research and Teaching Output of the MIT Community

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dc.contributor.author Hauser, John
dc.contributor.author Dahan, Ely
dc.date.accessioned 2003-12-04T18:30:27Z
dc.date.available 2003-12-04T18:30:27Z
dc.date.issued 2001-12
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/3772
dc.description.abstract Communication and information technologies are adding new capabilities for rapid and inexpensive customer input to all stages of the product development (PD) process. In this article we review six web-based methods of customer input as examples of the improved Internet capabilities of communication, conceptualization, and computation. For each method we give examples of user-interfaces, initial applications, and validity tests. We critique the applicability of the methods for use in the various stages of PD and discuss how they complement existing methods. For example, during the fuzzy front end of PD the information pump enables customers to interact with each other in a web-based game that provides incentives for truth-telling and thinking hard, thus providing new ways for customers to verbalize the product features that are important to them. Fast polyhedral adaptive conjoint estimation enables PD teams to screen larger numbers of product features inexpensively to identify and measure the importance of the most promising features for further development. Meanwhile, interactive web-based conjoint analysis interfaces are moving this proven set of methods to the web while exploiting new capabilities to present products, features, product use, and marketing elements in streaming multimedia representations. User design exploits the interactivity of the web to enable users to design their own virtual products thus enabling the PD team to understand complex feature interactions and enabling customers to learn their own preferences for new products. These methods can be valuable for identifying opportunities, improving the design and engineering of products, and testing ideas and concepts much earlier in the process when less time and money is at risk. As products move toward pretesting and testing, virtual concept testing on the web enables PD teams to test concepts without actually building the product. Further, by combining virtual concepts and the ability of customers to interact with one another in a stock-market-like game, securities trading of concepts provides a novel way to identify winning concepts. Prototypes of all six methods are available and have been tested with real products and real customers. These tests demonstrate reliability for web-based conjoint analysis, polyhedral methods, virtual concept testing, and stock-market-like trading; external validity for web-based conjoint analysis and polyhedral methods; and consistency for web-based conjoint analysis vs. user design. We report on these tests, commercial applications, and other evaluations. en
dc.description.sponsorship Center for Innovation in Product Development and the MIT Center for eBusiness en
dc.format.extent 1688492 bytes
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.subject information technologies en
dc.subject customer input en
dc.subject product development en
dc.subject web-based en
dc.subject conceptualization en
dc.subject computation en
dc.subject user-interfaces en
dc.subject fuzzy front end en
dc.subject validity tests en
dc.subject information pump en
dc.subject web-based game en
dc.subject product features en
dc.subject Fast polyhedral adaptive conjoint estimation en
dc.subject conjoint analysis en
dc.subject products en
dc.subject features en
dc.subject marketing en
dc.subject User design en
dc.subject virtual products en
dc.subject virtual concept testing en
dc.subject securities trading of concepts en
dc.subject Prototypes en
dc.subject web-based conjoint analysis en
dc.subject stock-market-like en
dc.title The Virtual Customer en
dc.type Technical Report en


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