Ssrn, vol. 58, issue 9 (2012) pp. 1-29
In a first survey of its type, we measure development and modification of consumer products by product users in a representative sample of 1,173 UK consumers aged 18 and over. We estimate this previously unmeasured type of innovation to be quite large: 6.1% of UK consumers – nearly 2.9 million individuals - have engaged in consumer product innovation during the prior three years. In aggregate, consumers’ annual product development expenditures are more than 1.4 times larger than the annual consumer product R&D expenditures of all firms in the UK combined. Consumers engage in many small projects which seem complementary to the innovation efforts of incumbent producers. Consumer innovators very seldom protect their innovations via intellectual property, and 17% diffuse to others. These results imply that official statistics partly miss relevant innovation activity, and that existing companies should reconfigure their product development systems to find and build upon prototypes developed by consumers.
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