Generating Customer Insights in Mid-sized B2B Companies: Integrative Review and Future Research Directions

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Dr. Matthias Seiler
Prof. Dr. Andreas Engelen
Prof. Dr. Keith Goffin


Mid-sized businesses (MSB) and mid-sized B2B businesses (MSB2B) in particular are often ignored in the research on innovation management. Yet, MSBs are very important for the growth of economies worldwide and it is of utmost importance for their future performance to develop new products. For the successful development of new differentiated products in MSBs, the early identification and consideration of customers’ hidden needs is crucial. Techniques that can be used to generate customer insights are often referred to by the term voice of the customer (VOC). However, extant research has treated this term very inconsistently. This is why, it is difficult for MSBs to decide which techniques are most useful to them. For MSBs, that have limited resources, this is a particular issue and best practices of how MSBs identify their customers’ needs for different types and different phases of innovation projects are lacking.
This review  aims at clarifying the aforementioned issues for MSB2Bs. Based on an analysis of the limited research on using hidden needs techniques in MSB2Bs, actionable recommendations are derived as to which hidden needs techniques are most useful for MSB2Bs and which best practices should be considered when developing new products in MSB2Bs. Opportunities for academia and practitioners are identified and managerial implications for industrial product innovation in MSB2Bs are discussed.

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Author Biographies

Dr. Matthias Seiler, Heitkamp & Thumann Group, Innovation Management, Germany

Dr. Matthias Seiler (PhD, Executive MBA)
Executive Director, Innovation Management
Heitkamp & Thumann Group

Prof. Dr. Andreas Engelen, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf, Chair of Management

Prof. Dr. Andreas Engelen
Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf,
Faculty of Business Administration and Economics,
Chair of Management,

Prof. Dr. Keith Goffin, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden

Prof. Dr. Keith Goffin
Stockholm School of Economics
House of Innovation