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Case study: Hearing the hearing impaired

Applying a job-based approach to customer insight discovery in product innovation in the implantable hearing solutions market


The continuous development of innovative product solutions that profitably address evolving customer needs is a critical success factor in the medical device industry. Market success is dependent on the innovators’ understanding of the unmet needs of a number of key customer groups like physicians, payors and patients. The first task in innovation is therefore to develop a detailed understanding of the unmet needs of customers and then focus internal development efforts on a prioritised list of the most important needs identified. Not an easy task, because customers generally think in terms of existing solutions. A customer’s frame of reference of what solutions are possible is generally shaped by the solutions that already exist. Conventional market research methods often do not take this innovation-related challenge adequately into account. The job-based approach presented here focuses on tasks or jobs that customers want to get done and on the results they expect. Those jobs and results are identified and quantified through qualitative and quantitative market research. The findings of this research can then be leveraged throughout the total organisation to shape its innovation strategy. Cochlear, a global provider of implantable hearing solutions, applied this method to uncover customer insights from key stakeholders such as surgeons, audiologists and patients (users). The results led to Senior Management, Research and Development, Marketing and the Sales Organisation all having a fact-based and aligned understanding of what really matters to different customer groups. The research was the basis for an integrated innovation strategy that led to a series of short-, mid- and long-term projects.

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Hearing the hearing impaired
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