Emeritus Professor of Marketing
"Lead users" are defined as being at the leading edge of markets, and as having a high incentive to innovate. Empirical research has shown the value of lead user need and solution data to new product development processes. However, the nature of the lead user construct itself has not been studied to date. In this paper the authors fill this significant gap by proposing and evaluating a continuous analog to the lead user construct, which they call leading edge status (LES).They establish the validity and reliability of LES and examine the characteristics of users having high levels of this variable. They also offer a first exploration of how LES is related to traditional measures in diffusion theory such as innate innovativeness and time of adoption.They find a strong relationship and explain how users with high LES can offer a contribution to both predicting and accelerating early product adoption.