How do customers really think, feel, and act? This question drives Goksel Yalcinkaya, associate professor of marketing, as he conducts research in the areas of new product development and innovation.
“As a marketing researcher, I start with satisfying my natural curiosity of marketing topics, including target demographics, segmentation, social influence, branding, and new products,” he said.
This curiosity leads him to new questions as he researches how to bring new products into the marketplace. Yalcinkaya’s research focuses on the relative impacts of exploitation and exploration capabilities on new product development, and how sustainability in this process can affect a company’s brand loyalty and bottom line.
According to Yalcinkaya, most innovations at the firm level are incremental, extending existing products and services by adding new capabilities or features. It creates solutions that keep existing customers engaged and allows an organization to “exploit” its existing capabilities and portfolios. On the other hand, exploration is when a company searches for new knowledge, tries to use new technology, and creates a new product or service.
Apple has become a proven “explorer” with new products like the iPod, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, as they created new competitive spaces and categories. On the other hand, the next-generation versions of these products are extensions on the existing technologies and capabilities, thus are regarded as highly “exploitive.”
“I think the most exciting thing for me was the finding that, whereas exploitation capabilities are negatively related to the degree of product innovation, exploration capabilities positively influence both the degree of product innovation and market performance,” he said. “It was the first thing I discovered, and led to my first publication.”
In 2015, Yalcinkaya was honored by the prestigious Journal of International Marketing with the Hans B. Thorelli Award for being the lead author of an article that “has made the most significant and long-term contribution to international marketing theory or practice” for the paper “An Examination of Exploration and Exploitation Capabilities: Implications for Product Innovation and Market Performance.” Since its publication, that article has been cited more than 338 times.