Intrinsic Motivation

Unconventional Needs


Dissatisfaction With the Market

Skills in the Field

The Digital Lead User Analysis

The ditigal Lead User Analysis is a method to find innovations from pioneer users. Their innovations can be used to identify future relevant customer needs that have not been solved by the market yet.

Originally by von Hippel & Kaulartz

In our Master's thesis, we took the approach of Eric von Hippel and Sandro Kaulartz and put it into an applicable context using methods from strategic design.

"[Lead users] innovate when the market does not offer products or services that meet their needs.”

Jens Lehnen

When to use this method?

When using this method, you should be aware that it will not work in every field and not for every application. From recent experiences the method works best to recognize disruption, to explore a new market or to understand the application of a trend in your core business.

Requirements Active Community Low-threshold Emerging Trend B2C USP development in a new market Application of trends in your core business Application Finding competing solutions Recognize Disruption Explore New Market Understand a Trend

How to Find
Lead Users Online (Fast)

1 Week

You can see here the process of digital lead user search. The whole process is meant in a time frame of one week. You should at least be able to fill the roles of techie and innovation champion.

Essential Persons


A person skilled in programming or data who is responsible for programming the Matcher and setting up the web app.


One or more persons with expertise in the core business and experience in dealing with trends, users and innovation management.

Step 1


Step 2


Step 3


Step 4


Step 5


1. Briefing / Searchfield

1/2 Day

In the first step, the the goal of the lead user research is jointly defined in a workshop. This means defining which market or trend you want to explore with the help of the digital lead user research, as well as forums and the jargon of the field.

Get the Worksheets
Define Objective
Identify Forums
Define Jargon



Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1

2. Data Analysis

2 Days

Once the goal, the forums and the jargon have been defined, you can move on from the workshop to scraping the forums and filtering the resulting posts.

Scraping or spidering describes the procedure of saving user-generated content from websites in a table or in a JSON-file. The subsequent filtering can be created by an NLP or Matcher.

Git Repository
Scraping Forums
NLP / Matcher
Iterative Adjustment

3. Manual Selection

1 Day

When the data is filtered, the amount of posts should be significantly reduced. Nevertheless, it can be several thousands of posts. The Lead Finder tool can help to find the final Lead Users. In the best case, the data to be analysed is divided into a group to reduce the workload of the individual.

Post Rating
Find Lead Users
Watch Lead User
Figma Plugin

Figma Plugin

Easylie import the found posts into figma, to continue working on it.

Get it Here

4. Clustering

1 Day

The sorted out posts can be imported into the whiteboard tool FigJam to be used for the further work steps. First, the lead user posts are to be brought together in clusters and synthesised according to their basic needs. A pyramid model was created to help them validate the need of the lead user posts. A second research is recommended and an extension with further figures, data and qualitative impressions.

Innovation Workshop
and Implementation

The clusters are now enriched with further contextual data. These can be integrated into the innovation process through a presentation or a gallery walk.