Economic perspectives on the development of complex products for increasingly demanding customers
Rival firms produce products with a variety of characteristics. It is typically assumed that consumers purchase those products that most closely match their ideal set of characteristics. Orthodox production theory economics offers no analysis of how to divide limited product development budgets between different characteristics. Furthermore, orthodox consumer economics assumes buyers make compensatory trade-offs between different product characteristics; this approach ignores problems caused by bounded rationality that, in complex choice environments, leads buyers to formulate simplifying heuristics such as hierarchical (non-compensatory) preferences over characteristics. An integrative analytical framework is developed, drawing upon orthodox economics, behavioural economics and evolutionary economics. Implications for the relationship between incremental product development and the firm's evolving capabilities are emphasized.
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