Consumer Insight as a key to radical product and business innovation

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- The problematic journey of furniture-company Hans K

One key aspect of modern Supply-Chain Management is New Product Development (NPD) and how iterative introductions of innovations into the existing product range strenghten companies competitive advantages. This is also highlighted in Demand-Chain Management where the demand-side of business is emphasized, in contrast to the strict traditional supply-chain focus; the focus is shifting from cost efficiency to value innovation.

There is a multitude of research within New Product Development and how it can, and should, influence and change other processes in companies, such as logistics processes. The ideas of consumer insight and the development process starting with the consumer is well established, however reported implementations of companies are rare where cooperating functions and departments achieve and exploit benefits of well connected demand- and supply operations. We argue that the problems of changing companies, even Small and Medium-sized Enterprices, from a traditional way of organizing processes into  innovation driven business-processes can be paramount, which to some degree is indicated by the lack of reported research-cases to this purpose.

In this research we make an in-depth case study of a Swedish furniture company, Hans K, and aim to highlight the problems and difficulties encountered during their almost decade-long change process from a traditional company into a highly innovation driven company, both in terms of the applied business model and in terms of day-to-day operations. The research will include in-depth interviews with several senior management representatives as well as interviews with the Hans K´s  Chinese suppliers to get a wider perspective.

The research objective is to shed light and improve the understanding of the problems and efforts for a company to become innovative and demand-driven, which is often overseen in much normative Supply/Demand Chain Management theory. The motivation of this research is that there are few companies that have made the journey from traditional to innovative and over several years maintained a thoroughly innovative approach to their business processes. Hans K being such a company offers a rare opportunity to study these aspects also from a critical point of view.  


  • Sandor Ujvari, University of Skövde
  • Kerstin Jäger, University of Skövde

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