The Marketing of Innovations - Harvard Business School MBA Program

The Marketing of Innovations

Course Number 1935

Professor John Gourville
Fall; Q2; 1.5 credits
14 sessions

Career Focus

This course is for students that are interested in markets or industries impacted by innovations, whether in small entrepreneurial firms and large established companies. It will principally, but not exclusively, focus on technological innovations. It explores the challenges faced by marketers, business managers, entrepreneurs, and consultants in bringing an innovative new product to the market.

Educational Objectives

Most innovative new products fail. Firms often spend great resources developing t a product only to find that consumers will not buy it. Sometimes the problem is that the innovation fails to deliver on its promises. Quite often, however, the problem lies elsewhere - either the firm has overestimated the product's market potential, underestimated the ease with which consumers will buy, or misinterpreted the needs and desires of consumers. This course will help students avoid such market failures.

This course will focus on developing insights and skills around the development, launch, and management of innovative new products. It will foster (1) an appreciation for the risks and rewards of bringing an innovative new product to market, (2) an understanding of customer psychology and its impact on the adoption and diffusion of an innovation, and (3) the marketing strategies to develop, introduce, and manage an innovative new product.

Course Content and Organization

The course will include cases taken from the fields of biotechnology, medical devices, consumer electronics, and green technologies, among others. These cases will be organized into modules that will focus on:

  • What are the risks and rewards associated with launching innovative products?
  • Why do firms develop the new products they develop?
  • When and why do consumers fail to adopt innovative new products?
  • How can you launch innovative new products to increase success?

The required project will be of the students choosing - but it can take the form of a paper, a case study, a business plan, etc. Appropriate topics might include a critical examination and assessment of why a particular innovation succeeded or failed in the marketplace, a forward-looking assessment of the potential for a new innovation or innovation platform, or an assessment of consumer behavior surrounding a particular innovation. These projects can be done individually or (preferably) in teams.

Grades for the course will consist of class participation and the final project.