This article analyzes the relationship between technological shift and product design strategies in the Italian lighting industry, where design players have experienced a discontinuous technological shift due to the introduction of LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology. Product design strategies are framed according to two tradeoffs: (i) product portfolio language heterogeneity versus product portfolio language homogeneity and (ii) product language differentiation versus product language sharing. Results show that firms adopted four main strategic approaches. Two approaches involve selecting one or more product languages that are shared with competitors and promoting a dominant style for the new technology, and two use one or more product languages to create and exploit proper market niches, differentiating a company’s product from its competitors. Moreover, the results show that companies tend to maintain the same design strategy while transitioning from an old to a new technology. Implications and insights are provided specifically for innovation management scholars and practitioners particularly interested to those companies that employ product design as a strategic weapon.
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