The goal of this research is to fill the gap in lead users' research under children. An effort is made to analyze the characteristics of lead users in social networks of children. Furthermore, their role in the adoption and diffusion of innovations is examined.
An experiment is conducted at primary schools in The Netherlands, with children aged between 8 and 12 years. An innovation is introduced in a social network (school class). Lead users are identified and their adoptive behavior is examined.
The following characteristics of lead users are identified in this study. Lead users have an efficient place within a social network, which allows them to receive diverse and non‐redundant information. They have a higher familiarity with the product category, and they are perceived as experts by their peers. Finally, lead users are more likely to be boys than girls. This study discovers as well that there is a significant positive relationship between lead userness and the current use of the innovation and the intention to use it in the future.
This research is only performed in one kind of product category in one particular market. Additional research should strengthen the findings of this research and explore the possibilities to generalize these findings. Further research should focus more on exploring additional characteristics of lead users, which will enhance the identification of lead users in networks of children. From a marketing point‐of‐view it would be interesting to investigate the influence of media on lead users and a lead users' ability to influence the diffusion of an innovation.
This paper is unique together with the paper of Kunst and Kratzer, because it investigates the lead user method in networks of children. It makes a first effort to determine the characteristics of lead users in networks of children. This is vital because it enhances the identification of lead users, consequently organizations can involve them in the development process of innovations.
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