from 'Weak Signals' to successful product development

Using advanced research technology for consumer driven innovation

Laurent Flores
CRM Metrix
Howard Moskowitz
Moskowitz Jacobs
Andrea Maier
University of Minnesota

Weak Signals Intellectual Underpinnings and Key Definitions

Most of our marketing books and innovation experts argue that a large proportion of the products and services we will use twenty or thirty years from now do not yet exist in a recognizable form. Almost thirty years ago Zaltman et al (1973) defined 'innovation' as 'any perceived deviation from existing practices or knowledge'. Our environment is full of opportunities to invent, improve and change things but often these opportunities are missed simply because they seem beyond our immediate perceptions. Information Theory principles ( Shannon , 1948) suggest that although 'innovation' signals may be available in our immediate environment, all too often they are missed or hidden by the overall surrounding noise. The challenge is therefore to detect and amplify these signals, enabling the marketer to tap into new, lucrative opportunities for new product development.