• Dr. Anne Katarina Heider und Dr. Maike Gerken WIFU (Wittener Ins­ti­tut für Familienunternehmen)

Bringing ideas to the slopes.

105 Witten ideen auf piste

From the research workshop. A particularly innovative entrepreneurial spirit is attested to in family businesses. This distinguishes them from non-family enterprises. Unfortunately, many of these ideas ultimately do not always lead to products that generate sales. How it can be possible to improve the marketing of innovations in family businesses.

The fisherman's dowel. Herrenknecht tunnel boring machines, der Simmerring from Freudenberg, the Thermomix from Vorwerk, the lightest glasses in the world from Silhouette, the coffee filter from Melitta, baking mixes from Dr. Oetker - a list of groundbreaking innovations from German family-owned companies would go beyond these pages. It is not for nothing that family businesses are regarded as particularly innovative.

There are understandable reasons for this. First of all, the framework conditions for innovation there appear to be better than for non-family enterprises. These conditions include, among other things, a strategic long-term orientation, which is not least due to the high equity ratio in the family-owned companies. This is accompanied by the fact that family businesses tend to employ their employees for longer. Trust in the employees and short decision-making processes promote the generation of ideas for innovations. The mostly very flat hierarchies in the organisational structure also enable faster innovation development.

Last but not least, a binding orientation system strengthens the employees' identification with the company. Cooperative and participatory forms of work contribute to trustful cooperation. In family businesses, a constructive exchange between functions and divisions is also promoted more strongly.

Empirical studies actually prove that such innovation-promoting corporate cultures, which are characterised by a willingness to take risks and creativity, have a significant positive effect on the development of new ideas. On the other hand, hierarchically oriented cultures (standardization and formalization) reduce the success of innovation.

Nevertheless, entrepreneurial practice shows that 40 to 90 percent of all innovations fail on the market because family businesses are often unable to take the last decisive step in the innovation chain, the product launch on the market.

The reasons for this can be manifold. In most cases, however, inefficient innovation management ensures that product launches and marketing ultimately do not take place.

That's a shame. This is how family businesses often give away a significant competitive advantage. What can they do to get their horsepower on the road better?

First of all, family businesses should better highlight their existing strengths. This means keeping hierarchies consistently flat, allowing new ideas to be tried out and promoting direct communication and the associated faster decision-making processes.

In the implementation phase, research at zwei wesentliche has identified approaches that can be used to improve the chances of success. The first is to optimise the selection of ideas. The use of creativity techniques, such as search field analysis or brainstorming, is suitable to support the precise finding of ideas. A systematic evaluation of innovation ideas based on pre-defined criteria ensures that the selection of promising innovation objects is accurate.

Secondly, consistent market orientation is necessary when planning and implementing product launches. The focus of innovation on customer needs contributes to the improvement of market-oriented information bases.

Above all, the systematic collection and evaluation of customer information and suggestions for the improvement of existing product offers represent a central prerequisite for information marketing. Market tests are recommended in which the acceptance of the new products by special users, so-called lead users, is analyzed.

This lead user approach aims at the early, comprehensive integration of customer information into the innovation process. Lead users are characterized by the fact that they sense needs that will become relevant in future markets much earlier than the mass of customers. Ihre Assessment therefore makes predicting needs more reliable.

Family businesses, in particular, can benefit greatly from this solution approach, as they are usually already characterized by a stronger involvement of the customer in innovation development. In addition, family businesses not only involve sales- and technology-oriented employees in innovation development, but also frequently integrate employees from all functions and areas into idea generation.

Potential consumers are another market source of information for innovations. However, the traditional innovation paradigm, in which family businesses develop innovations strictly for a particular consumer group, is outdated. Instead, the concept of co-production has been discussed in the scientific discussion for some years now.

Scientists emphasize that the consumer must be integrated into the joint creation of value in the future. With increasing networking on the Internet and the use of certain technologies, companies have more and more the opportunity to get in touch with consumers.

This also opens up new opportunities for market research to observe consumer behaviour, conduct surveys and test products.

Once the product has been found and tested, prototyping is recommended for innovation marketing. In an iterative process, more and more detailed prototypes are developed step by step and feedback, especially from lead users and consumers, is collected. The innovation ideas should be tested as early as possible with lead users and consumers. So, any weaknesses can be detected at an early stage. A well-founded decision to cancel can then be made much more quickly. This saves the family business valuable resources, allows it to quickly focus on other projects and therefore has a positive effect on the overall success of innovation.

Especially in a world that is changing faster and faster, family businesses have a great chance to be successful due to their einzigartigen Struktur This creates a stronger focus on innovation efforts and a more efficient use of resources - at the same time maintaining flexibility with regard to new topics that reflect long-term development perspectives.<font color="#ffff00">Sync by honeybunny <font color="#ffff00">


Authors: Dr. Anne Katarina Heider and Dr. Maike Gerken

WIFU (Witten Institute for Family Business)

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