Idea generation in new product development through business environmental scanning: the case of XCar

Kamilla Kohn (Fenix Research Programme, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Publication date: 1 December 2005



To develop understanding of why the use of business information in new product development proves problematic in practice, and to show how obstacles and difficulties may be overcome by reference to the process of using business environmental scanning (BES) for the purpose in a real organisation.


A longitudinal case study based on a single company in the European automotive industry, the anonymous XCar. Data gathering combined participant observation and formal interviews with managers, both of which were scrupulously recorded, coded and interpreted.


The use of BES for generation of new product ideas should apply creativity to the interpretation of trend analysis, serving as a base for the formulation of product proposals. The literature argues that the process needs to be more exploratory than confirmatory, with the focus on identifying opportunities rather than, as is common, on reducing uncertainty. This case study shows how that was achieved in practice. Likewise, while some authors argue for the importance of the volume of the information collected, others assert that its use is more critical. The case study confirms the latter view, and shows how internal processes converted data into decision‐making and planning inputs.

Research limitations/implications

As with any single‐firm case study, further research is indicated, within other industries and related to different applications.

Practical implications

The results from this single case provide potentially useful insights into the application of business information gathering to the generation of new product ideas, both in theory and in practice. They show how the purpose of the process shifted slowly but steadily in one organisation from confirmation to exploration, though not without difficulty. One key lesson is that the managerial focus must change accordingly.


Few detailed empirical studies are available on the gathering and application of information on the business environment in practice, specifically as an aid to new product development. This study contributes to collective knowledge by shedding light on this area.



Kohn, K. (2005), "Idea generation in new product development through business environmental scanning: the case of XCar", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 23 No. 7, pp. 688-704.

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