Innovation, co-creation and the new product development process in small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
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The development of new products and services is a fundamental process for any enterprise enabling innovation and competitive advantage. In the case of Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) New Product Development (NPD) represents a great opportunity but at the same time a significant challenge as resources tend to be scarce and limited. However, SMEs can utilize the idea of open innovation and especially involve the customer in the product development process. This paper explores how participation of customers in the product development process occurs, and evaluates the extent to which Customer Involvement (CI) can bring positive results to SMEs. A survey study involving SMEs of the manufacturing sector was carried out for this purpose. Some of the main findings of the survey show that SMEs involve the customer in a variety of ways. In particular, customers are mainly involved for idea generation and information gathering as well as promotion and advertising purposes. In addition, the various factors that may influence the decision of customers to participate in the NPD process are investigated. Finally, the benefits arising from customer involvement are identified, which they are mainly related to increasing the company's profits, increasing its market share and reducing costs.