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School of Business | Department of Information and Service Economy | Logistics | 2014
Thesis number: 14273
Collaboration with customers in innovation processes: Case study: M/S Viking Grace, Viking Line Abp
Author: Ahvenainen, Virpi
Title: Collaboration with customers in innovation processes: Case study: M/S Viking Grace, Viking Line Abp
Year: 2014  Language: eng
Department: Department of Information and Service Economy
Academic subject: Logistics
Index terms: logistiikka; logistics; innovaatiot; innovations; yhteistyö; cooperation; asiakkaat; customers; oppiminen; learning; kehitys; development; laivaliikenne; shipping traffic; varustamot; shipping companies
Pages: 88
Key terms: Co-creation, customization, Market and learning orientation, Customer involvement in innovation, M/S Viking Grace, expressed needs, latent needs
Purpose of this study

The purpose of this study is to understand the importance to collaborate with customers in innovation processes of cruise lines business context. The research examines how learning from and with customers will help the company to understand and anticipate the latent needs of the customers. Further, the study aims to explain how customers' involvement in innovation processes in a right way has a positive effect on creating new breakthrough innovations in the market.


The theoretical framework of the study discusses existing literature relating to market and learning orientation together with a service-centered model, and also contemplates the literature on customer involvement in innovation. This study was conducted as a case study with a cruise line company and their latest cruise ferry. The company and their latest cruise ferry were chosen because the results of the study would bring about value to the study, and also create valuable knowledge to the company. The empirical part of this particular study was qualitative in nature and the data was collected through semi-structured interviews with 40 different passengers on the latest cruise ferry. In addition, three interviews were conducted with employees of the cruise company in order to achieve understanding of their viewpoints. On the whole, the research is a qualitative study and its main purpose is to make contributions to important research fields of customer involvement in innovation and market and learning orientation, and also create practical knowledge and give suggestions to the cruise line company.


As the earlier research shows, customers' early involvement in the innovation process offers a great possibility to understand the needs that assist to create novel offerings in the market. However, traditional research methods such as interviews, feedback and customer surveys tend to focus on existing offerings and lead to making only minor improvement and incremental changes. Therefore, the focus is on satisfying the expressed needs of the customers and uncovered needs, that would lead to innovative thinking and breakthrough innovations, cannot be reached. The main finding of this study reflects existing literature; as the case company mainly focused on the traditional techniques in the development process, and give the customers a reactive role, all the latent needs of the customers could not be uncovered. That explains why majority of the customers saw the cruise ferry and the novel concepts mostly as upgraded versions instead of as breakthrough innovations.
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