Laggards as Innovators? Old Users as Designers of New Services & Service Systems
Anna Essén, Britt Östlund
Involving users in the design process is increasingly discussed as the quickest and most reliable way to capture the needs of users and consumers. In parallel, the fastest growing population segment in Asia and the West is older people. This article asks whether their involvement in the design process could accelerate a growing service market and if so, how? It addresses a knowledge gap that constrains service provision for a growing market of older people and which underestimates older people’s potential contribution in the early phases of the development of new services. The current role of older users is limited to that of test persons later in the design process or as objects of randomized samples that explore consumers’ reactions to existing products. The present case study provides an empirical example of how old users can be involved in the early stages of service design. In doing this, the article questions the concept of old users as laggards. It suggests great potential to include such users – been arounds – as sources of innovation in the earlier phases of the design process if they have the right tools and opportunities to act. In identifying unsatisfied needs and potential market solutions, the inclusion of old users in user-driven projects can contribute to the generation of business ideas.
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