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Posts in category 'Branding'

12 June 2013

A successful 21st century brand has to help create meaningful lives

hav_0200_mb_infographic_v1.2

An enormous study of how consumers around the world interact with brands finds that only the companies that make life better for consumers create impactful connections.

For its second annual Meaningful Brands Index, Havas Media talked with more than 134,000 people in 23 countries about their impressions of more than 400 brands, from Apple to Goldman Sachs to Petrobras. They’ve found a rousing affirmation of last year’s findings: Brands that make life better are thriving. Brands that don’t are–slowly–being punished.

The Index features Google in first place, followed by Samsung, Microsoft, Nestle and Sony.

16 September 2012

Luxury brands need luxury retail experiences, even in the online space

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Jonathan Ross, business development director at FACT-Finder, discusses the steps luxury brands can take to ensure a more rewarding online retail experience for consumers.

“A recent study by McKinsey and Altagamma, the Italian association of luxury brands, appears to finally dispel the idea that online shopping is the preserve of discounted brands and shoppers looking to pick up a bargain. As far as the luxury category was concerned, there was a nagging suspicion that shoppers needed to experience a tactile relationship with their potential purchases in a way that could never be achieved online.

The McKinsey study surveyed more than 300 luxury brands, 700 websites and more than 2.5m online comments, including those on social media platforms. Digital sales are expected to reach about €15bn in the luxury market by 2016, but the survey also found that use of the internet by consumers for research and price comparison meant that about 15% of total sales in the luxury goods industry are directly generated by digital media. As much as a fifth of store sales (a market worth in the region of €34bn) is said to be directly influenced by the online experience.”

> Financial Times article about the Digital Luxury Experience report

9 July 2012

Perspectives in experience design

enterprise-ux1

Milan Guenther, founding partner of enterprise design associates, explores the word “user” in “user experience”, and compares it to customer experience, employee experience and brand experience.

“For me, the word Experience in the context of Design work refers to the way people experience the world, and making everything we produce fit into their lives. The word preceding Experience is about the perspective you use when talking about someone’s experience, the roles and the scope you want to focus on. For an enterprise, this translates to the ways it chooses to appear in people’s lives.”

Read article

(via InfoDesign)

22 December 2011

What makes a brand experience great?

hershey

Brian Thomas Collins has made a career out of creating brand experiences, “a few of them great”. He writes:

“A good brand experience is when a brand does what we expect of it. A great brand experience is something we tell someone else about. In short, a great brand experience is a story, in which the brand user – not the brand – is the hero. A great brand experience is direct and transformative. It’s not a stunt or a fantasy. It’s not a campaign. It’s not the idea of something. It is something, something worth writing home about – or at least texting a friend. Brand awareness and engaged consumers are happy by-products, but not the point. The test for a great brand experience is result. Something new created. Something changed. A bell that can’t be un-rung.”

In an effort to make more of them great, he used eight principles.

Read article

28 August 2011

What marketing executives should know about user experience

Cycle
A strong experience strategy, derived from qualitative user research and experience workshops, can bring a collected vision to your organization and not only identify the true value of your products but help you transform the way your company does business, argues Nick Myers on the Cooper blog.

“Like it or not, the digital world has changed at a wicked pace, and more and more interactions between companies and their customers now happen via an interface. Software serves us everywhere, and the user experience now shapes these interactions every day. At the center of all this change sits the brand. TV and print advertising now regularly feature digital experiences from the likes of Apple, Google, Toyota, GE, and Amazon. The visual interface has become the new face of your brand. […]

The question has become: How can marketers connect customers and brands in the digital era, and direct their organizations to guide products that inspire lasting engagement?”

Read article

17 July 2011

New RSA Journal out

RSA Journal
The Summer 2011 edition of the RSA Journal explores the relationship between business and social change.

Brand values
As the social, political and commercial spheres become more intertwined, firms are increasingly finding incentives to look beyond the bottom line. Colin Crouch explores the strong moral and commercial case for corporations to contribute to social good.

The cooperative renaissance
Values-based business models offer a viable alternative to the traditional capitalist approach, argues Peter Marks. What can the public and private sectors learn from these business models in today’s post-recession landscape?

Urban ingenuity
Too often accused of being a breeding ground for poverty and inequality, cities are actually a catalyst for innovation, entrepreneurialism and social mobility. It is no coincidence that many of the world’s most successful businesses had their genesis in cities, says Edward Glaeser

The new frontier?
While most social enterprises have yet to become household names, they are well positioned for steady growth, as they have a role to play in public-service provision, believes Geoff Mulgan.

The 21st century prison
Rachel O’Brien outlines the RSA’s plans to build a social enterprise prison that makes it easier for ex-offenders to transition into society and return to work.

The power of proximity
In an age when digital technology connects us on a global scale, entrepreneurial success still depends largely on the networks, resources and demand found in local communities, says Barry Quirk.

Self-made in China
Linda Yueh asks what we can learn from the generation of Chinese entrepreneurs who are driving the country’s rapid economic growth.

Best behaviours
Monique and Sam Sternin discuss how the Positive Deviance approach uses people’s hidden talents to tackle widespread and complex social problems.

David Hume: 300 years on
David Hume is remembered as a thinker who has influenced the way we address social, political and economic challenges. James Harris explains why, three centuries after his birth, David Hume continues to intrigue and inspire his diverse readership.

26 February 2010

Content strategy – the next big thing?

Content strategy
Content strategy is more or less on the same trajectory as social media was three years ago, argues Kristina Halvorson (of Brain Traffic).

“I think it’s because the reality of social media initiatives—that they’re internal commitments, not advertising campaigns—has derailed more than a few organizations from really implementing effective, measurable programs. Most companies can’t sustain social media engagement because they lack the internal editorial infrastructure to support it.”

Couldn’t agree more.

Read full story

(via InfoDesign)

1 December 2009

Our misguided focus on brand and user experience

Branded UX
If there is a future for designers and marketers in big business, it lies not in brand, nor in “UX”, nor in any colorful way of framing total control over a consumer, such as “brand equity”, “brand loyalty”, the “end to end customer journey”, or “experience ownership”. It lies instead in encouraging behavioral change and explicitly shaping culture in a positive and lasting way, argues Jon Kolko in a long piece on Johnny Holland.

“The focus on brand and control of the user experience is an attempt to avoid the above commoditization and irrelevance of artifact, and it references a dated model of dominance – one where a company produces something for a person to consume. This is the McDonalds approach to production, where an authoritative voice prescribes something and then gains efficiencies by producing it exactly as prescribed, in mass. The supposed new model is to design something for a person to experience, yet the allusion to experience is only an empty gesture. An experience cannot be built for someone. Fundamentally, one has an experience, and that is experience is always unique.

Interaction design is the design of behavior, positioned as dialogue between a person and an artifact. A person commonly doesn’t talk to an object; they use it, touch it, manipulate it, and control it. Usage, touching, manipulation and control are all dialogical acts, unspoken but conversational.”

Jon Kolko is an Associate Creative Director at frog design. He has worked extensively in the professional world of interaction design solving the problems of Fortune 500 clients. Prior to working at frog, Kolko was a Professor of Interaction and Industrial Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design, sits on the Board of Directors for the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), and is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of interactions magazine, published by the ACM. Kolko is the author of Thoughts on Interaction Design, published by Morgan Kaufmann, and the forthcoming text tentatively entitled Exposing the Magic of Design: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis, to be published by Oxford University Press.

Read full story

4 August 2009

From chasm to convergence

Consumer-led
Johnathan Bonnell and Jason Theodor explain in a two part series on Experience Matters how technology is increasingly closing the gap between manufacturers and consumers.

“The chasm between consumer feedback and product offerings has virtually been erased, and this convergence has created a new opportunity in co-creation: companies and consumers working together to co-create products, services, or improve upon an experience.

We’ve found and believe that this co-creation can be consumer-led (where the consumer is deeply involved in almost the entire product creation process, a de-facto member of the product & marketing team) or brand-led (the direct involvement of the consumer ends with providing a new idea or suggesting an improvement).”

Read full story: Part 1 | Part 2

27 July 2009

Conceptual consumption

Consumed
An article in the New York Times Magazine brought me to an interesting article by behavioural economist Daniel Ariely, who has been featured previously on this blog:

“Anybody who is honest about consumer behavior knows that often what we buy is not simply some thing but some idea that is embodied by that thing. “Conceptual consumption” is the name given to this practice in a recent paper with that title by Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University (and author of the book “Predictably Irrational”), and Michael Norton, an assistant professor of marketing at the Harvard Business School, in The Annual Review of Psychology. Their notion has various subsets, one of which is the consumption of goals.”

Conceptual Consumption
by Dan Ariely (Duke University) and Michael I. Norton (Harvard Business School)
Annual Review of Psychology 2009. 60:475–99

Abstract
As technology has simplified meeting basic needs, humans have cultivated increasingly psychological avenues for occupying their consumption energies, moving from consuming food to consuming concepts; we propose that consideration of such “conceptual consumption” is essential for understanding human consumption. We first review how four classes of conceptual consumption—consuming expectancies, goals, fluency, and regulatory fit—impact physical consumption. Next, we benchmark the power of conceptual consumption against physical consumption, reviewing research in which people forgo positive physical consumption—and even choose negative physical consumption–in order to engage in conceptual consumption. Finally, we outline how conceptual consumption informs research examining both preference formation and virtual consumption, and how it may be used to augment efforts to enhance consumer welfare.”

A shorter article on the same theme and by the same authors can be found on the Harvard Business Review.

15 December 2008

Grounding the American Dream

Grounding the American Dream
Context-Based Research Group and Carton Donofrio Partners have conducted a joint study on the future of consumerism in a changing economy and conclude that a new “grounded consumer” is emerging from the ashes of the economic meltdown.

Press release

Context-Based Research Group, an ethnographic research firm with a global network of consumer anthropologists, and Carton Donofrio Partners, a marketing firm in the Mid-Atlantic, today unveiled key findings from their research report, entitled, “Grounding the American Dream: A Cultural Study on the Future of Consumerism in a Changing Economy.” The study portrays a society weathering the early stages of a traumatic event, maps the changing consumer landscape, and provides insight into the transition while detailing business implications.

Based on ethnographic research conducted in October and November in New York City; Baltimore; Miami; San Antonio, Texas; and Lexington, Kentucky, the team identified a five-stage process consumers are undergoing as they struggle through a major cultural transformation. The process explains how they’re coping and rebuilding their lives amidst the faltering “American Dream.” The team then developed a business brief offering suggestions for companies in various industries working to navigate this new terrain.

- Read press release
Download report

18 September 2008

Book: Whiff! The revolution of scent communication in the information age

Whiff
Whiff! The Revolution of Scent Communication in the Information Age
by C. Russell Brumfield
Quimby Press, Hardcover, June 2008

Secretly, scores of Fortune 500 companies, like Proctor & Gamble, Disney, Bloomingdales, Lexus, Reebok, Sony, Samsung, and Starwood Hotels, have been using aroma to bypass their competition.

These cutting edge companies are using scent research to trigger and enhance customers’ emotions, perceptions, and brand loyalty, resulting in increased sales and satisfied customers.

Whiff! conveniently pulls back the veil for the rest of the $3.9 trillion U.S retail marketing trade, so that innovative small and mid-sized businesses can share the advantage of the big boys.

Yet this is only the beginning stage of the scent revolution. This global wave is changing how branding and marketing experts communicate with their customers at every level across every industry.

Whiff! reveals how exciting new scent discoveries are being applied to safety, security, healthcare, navigation, diagnostics, product design, and even on the battlefield. With a comprehensive overview of this global phenomenon, Brumfield and his team offer up a breath-taking whiff of the future.

- Amazon page
Book review on Neuroscience Marketing

(via FutureLab)

9 July 2008

Polite, pertinent and… pretty

Polite, pertinent and... pretty
Polite, pertinent and… pretty: designing for the new wave of personal informatics” was the title of a talk given by Matt Jones (Dopplr) and Tom Coates (Yahoo! Brickhouse) at the recent Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

Summarising their talk is not an easy thing to do, but I will give it a try. In any case the 81 slides with speaker notes are available on SlideShare.

Jones and Coates start from the premise that information is now becoming so pervasive, omni-present, localised and personalised that we can not only increase our awareness but also constantly use it to our advantage. These data come from big databases, but also from our own behaviours. Our own devices sense, record and sample data, and share these with other devices and with us and other people. They call this “personal informatics”. But this poses a huge user experience challenge, which requires a sophisticated design solution:

“The discipline of informatics is based on the recognition that the design of this technology is not solely a technical matter, but must focus on the relationship between the technology and the use in real-world settings.”

“That is, informatics designs solutions in context, and takes into account the social, cultural and organisational settings in which computing and information technology will be used.”

But what does that mean concretely? How should we design? Jones and Coates propose “three pegs to hang some thoughts off” and they all start with a P.

In defining the concept of politeness (to be thought of as the “softer ying to the hard yang of ‘privacy’), they lean on such thinkers as Adam Greenfield (and in particular his recent book “Everyware“), Mimi Ito, Leisa Reichelt, Matthew Chalmers, Anne Galloway and of course their own practice.

Pertinence is about “disclosing information that is timely and as ‘in context’ as possible”. To define this better, they refer to the ‘movement’ metaphor that Matt Webb of Schulze & Webb recently described in a talk. Webb posits that we are moving from a web of ‘places’ to “something more like a web of organisms or engines connecting and fuelling each other”.

So the issue here is to show small pieces of information in the right context at the right time, “delivered in increasingly pertinent ways, depending on our habits and contexts”.

And finally there is prettiness:

“The vast quantities of information that personal informatics generate need not only to be clear and understandable to create legibility and literacy in this new world, but I’d argue in this first wave also seductive, in order to encourage play, trial and adoption”.

So what is the future of personal informatics? Aren’t we creating our own “participatory panopticon” (Jamais Cascio)? Or are we moving to a world filled with “spimes” (Bruce Sterling)? At the moment it’s often artists who are exploring the boundaries of this unknown future.

In a long post, Alex Steffen of Worldchanging presents his own – excellent – summary of the Jones/Coates talk, but takes their analysis a step further by connecting it with sustainability and adding a fourth P (“Protection”):

“Ubiquity and sustainability could turbocharge each other. Ubiquity enables revealed backstories, observed flows and shared services, making it easier to live well at a minimum of expense and ecological impact. Sustainability, particularly in the form of compact urbanism with bright green innovation, concentrates human interactions with each other and networked systems, making it easier to suffuse daily life with the sort of intelligence that allows data to be gathered, shared and connected. The Net and the public square, as Castells wrote, are symbiants.” […]

“PSS [product-service systems] offer enormous potential sustainability benefts. Indeed, I’d argue that it will be impossible to deliver sustainable prosperity without the widespread adoption of shared/sharing systems. But they can also have a real downside, for PSS rely on a more intimate connection with their users, and where that intimacy is not backed by protected relationships, real disaster can result.” […]

“So, I would add a fourth P, “Protection.”

If we are going to interact with companies in intimate ways — in ways that impact our deepest life choices — those interactions ought not only to be held to a higher standard of transparency and public accountability; they ought to be safe-guarded in formal ways as well by having corporate decision-making structures that protect the user rights of the people involved.”

Steffen keeps on surprising me by the depth of his thinking.

20 May 2008

Upcoming book on the “high end”

Future High Tide of High End
A few weeks ago we were contacted by Marco Bevolo of Philips Design who was looking for some advance feedback on the book he is writing together with co-authors Stefano Marzano (also Philips Design), Dr. Howard R. Moskowitz and Alex Gofman (president and vice-president of Moscowitz Jacobs Inc.). We were sent a galley copy for a first reaction.

The book, which has the tentative title “Future High Tide of High End” and will be published by Wharton School Publishing, provides a socio-cultural and people-centred understanding of the concept of luxury — more specifically prestige products for the masses (which they call “High End”) — with the aim of delivering insights and guidance for future business development in this sector.

Made possible by about seventy conversations, contributions and interviews with industry experts, thought leaders and opinion makers, the book is quite unique in its approach, and bound to become a must-read for anyone conceiving, developing and marketing higher-end consumer products and services.

A focus on the intersection of social trends, designer visions, and deep people understanding, allows the authors to propose a series of original insights, including a new, experience-based concept for the future of the industry, as well as a toolbox from which to create and understand new “High End” product and service offerings.

To understand what the soul of the High End is going to be in the near future, the authors also introduce an experimental method, the Rule Developing Experimentation (RDE) — with people having to evaluate pairs of future scenarios, with those data then statistically analysed to find out which underlying ideas are the real drivers. They then present the results of an original experimental study based on this method, that was conducted in four countries (US, UK, China and Italy) with more than 500 end-users, all from somewhat higher income brackets.

The book, which is currently in advanced editing (partly on the basis of our feedback), is bound to be published before the end of the year. The authors told us they will soon publish some more material on their website (such as an abstract, a table of contents, a sample chapter, etc.), so that also our readers can contribute their own insights and suggestions.

A small endnote is one of pride: this is the first public piece on the upcoming book. Marco said he would be happy if it came from his hometown (Torino, Italy) and so are we.

20 May 2008

PSFK conference videos

Interactions
PSFK is a global trends and innovation company that also organises conferences in various parts of the world. Videos of over forty presentations at these conferences are now online. My ten highlights:

Allan Chochinov on the Dumbest Smartest Design Problem
At the PSFK Conference New York 2008, Allan Chochinov (Core77) gives an object lesson in strategy and creative thinking. People often assert that real value isn’t in the answer we provide, but in the question we ask. Well, what happens when we ask a supremely stupid question in the hopes of driving innovation? A lot, actually.

Grant McCracken on Pattern Recognition
At the PSFK Conference New York 2008, Grant McCracken (MIT) explains the importance of inspiration, providing a framework for which to gather, monitor and react to trends and ideas in culture and business.

Hugh MacLeod on Wine 2.0
In this 28 minute video, from the PSFK Conference London 2007, among many other things, Hugh MacLeod describes how a small South African wine company shook up an industry with a web 2.0 approach.

Regine Debatty on What Happens When Artists Mess Around With Technology
In this 28 minute video from the PSFK Conference London 2007, Regine Debatty of We Make Money Not Art describes how today’s artists explore electronics, digital bits and even the so-called “emerging technologies” such as biotechnology or nanotechnology; and explains why it should matter to us?

Jeremy Ettinghausen on How To Build Innovation Into A Brand
At the PSFK Conference London 2007, Jeremy Ettinghausen of Penguin spoke on the challenges of reinventing a traditional brand for a digital age.

Mike Butcher on How Digital Media Screwed the Media Business
This 20 minute video from the PSFK Conference London 2007 presents journalist Mike Butcher as he talks about how media owners are on a race for survival against technology companies that put the power to publish in the hands of the ‘audience.’

Niku Banaie Gives Twenty-Five Signals for Change
At the PSFK Conference London 2007, Niku Banaie from Naked Comminications talks about how an understanding of the basic human needs can keep your employees, customers and friends happier, fresher and healthier.

Timo Veikkola on a Vision Of The Future
This 20 minute video from the PSFK Conference London 2007 shows the presentation given by Timo Veikkola, Future Strategist at Nokia, on a Vision of our Future. As design is the reflection of society, how can we envision the future through trends, observation and informed intuition. What values, attitudes and behaviours of today will shape our future?

George Murphy on Brand Experience
At the PSFK Conference New York 2007, George Murphy (Fitch) spokeon creating environments to develop valuable interaction between consumers and brands.

Allan Chochinov on The Perfect Storm
At the PSFK Conference New York 2007, Allan Chochinov (Core77) speaks on whether the ability of the web to share ideas forced a sudden shift towards the consumption of the idea of a product rather than a product itself? How does this impact design and product development?

24 April 2008

Brand interactions are the future

David Armano
David Armano writes in Advertising Age about “micro-interactions”, the many everyday exchanges that we have with a product, brand and service that define how we feel about a product, brand or service at a gut emotional level, how information architects and experience designers can help companies design these, and what that means for the advertising industry.

Back to interaction designers. Here’s a concept worth thinking about: many of them don’t want to work for your ad agency. How do I know this? Because I talk to them daily. The most common response I get is, “Why would I want to work on a constant stream of microsites and promotions?” Interaction designers thrive on long-term project engagements. They yearn to sink their teeth into complex problems, wrapping their heads around how they can help solve them.

An agency environment that churns out digital program after program is less appealing — especially when there are opportunities to go work with a start-up, a non-agency or even, perhaps, the future Googles of the world. In an industry built off of the copywriter-art director dynamic duo, it’s time to think about talent in terms of “Renaissance people.” Many interaction designers fit this bill.

Read full story

3 April 2008

Status stories: helping consumers tell status-yielding stories to other consumers

Amiens
Trendwatching published a feature post about status-yielding stories. Their central thesis:

As more brands (have to) go niche and therefore tell stories that aren’t known to the masses, and as experiences and non-consumption-related expenditures take over from physical (and more visible) status symbols, consumers will increasingly have to tell each other stories to achieve a status dividend from their purchases. Expect a shift from brands telling a story, to brands helping consumers tell status-yielding stories to other consumers.

Read full story

1 April 2008

Milan to host 2015 Expo

Expo 2015
It’s all over the Italian press (the winners) and the Turkish press (the losers), and on a small number of international news outlets: Milan will host the 2015 Universal Exposition (a.k.a. “Expo” or “World Fair”).

In a day and age when Universal Expositions are no longer the top international events they used to be one hundred years ago, Milan is nevertheless totally excited about the nomination.

I am not yet, but then these events tend to galvanise people and decision makers, and can push things forward quickly. Since Italians are famous for pulling their act together at the very last moment — faced with the prospect of otherwise making a “brutta figura” (a rather poor showing) — I wouldn’t underestimate the power of the 2015 Expo either.

World Fairs have over the last decades become platforms for nation branding:

“From Expo ’92 in Seville onwards, countries started to use the world expo more widely and more strongly as a platform to improve their national images through their pavilions. Finland, Japan, Canada, France and Spain are cases in point. A large study by Tjaco Walvis called “Expo 2000 Hanover in Numbers” showed that improving national image was the primary participation goal for 73% of the countries at Expo 2000. In a world where a strong national image is a key asset, pavilions became advertising campaigns, and the Expo a vehicle for ‘nation branding’. Apart from cultural and symbolic reasons, organizing countries (and the cities and regions hosting them) also utilize the world exposition to brand themselves. According to branding expert Wally Olins, Spain used Expo ’92 and the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona in the same year to underline its new position as a modern and democratic country and present itself as a prominent member of the EU and the global community.

The quote above is from Wikipedia, and the current Fair at Zaragoza, Spain is a case in point. I presume the same nation branding thing will happen when Shanghai gets the honour in 2010.

The 2015 Expo will surely be an opportunity to help crystallise a discussion of the future direction of Italy (which is already starting with the Italy 150 celebration in 2011) – and this in itself is a good thing.

Here some lines from the Reuters story on the nomination:

Italy’s fashion and financial capital Milan won the race on Monday to host the 2015 Universal Exposition, a welcome victory for a country that has been buffeted by a food scandal and political feuding.

Officials for the Paris-based International Bureau of Exhibitions (BIE) said Milan defeated the western Turkish city of Izmir by 86 votes to 65, dashing Turkish hopes of hosting the world’s biggest fair for the first time.

Read full story

12 March 2008

Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy

Creative Britain
The UK government is aiming to make the country a global leader in the arts, media and advertising through initiatives including the creation of thousands of new apprenticeships and the launch of a Davos-style world creative business conference.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the culture secretary, Andy Burnham, unveiled the action plan, Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy, in what the government is labelling the first-ever comprehensive, state-supported plan to move the creative industries from the “margins to the mainstream of economic and policy thinking” in the UK.

The action plan [which was welcomed by the design industry] outlines 26 commitments for both government and the creative industries to nurture talent, create jobs and to drive the UK’s international competitiveness.

One of the initiatives is to develop a new annual World Creative Business Conference that will act as the “centrepiece” of an international push to make the UK the “world’s creative hub”.

Read full story [The Guardian]
Download action plan (pdf, 1.2 mb, 81 pages)

(via Richard Florida)

27 February 2008

Design meets research

Target research
Gain, the AIGA journal of business and design, seems to be awake again (after a long slumbering period). The latest contribution, entitled Design Meets Research, is by Debbie Millman and Mike Bainbridge, both of Sterling Brands, one of the leading brand identity firms in the US. Millman is also the editor of Gain.

Qualitative and quantitative market research often get a bad rap in the graphic design industry—and in the marketing world in general. Those that are vehemently against the practice argue that because consumers are generally uncomfortable with change, any type of research probing something truly innovative or revolutionary will likely scare people. Those that are skeptical will question the nature of behavioral dynamics involved in artificial group settings. Even those that are merely dubious will admit that research can stifle creativity. […]

[However,] there is a group of brand consultants and cultural anthropologists alike that believe now that it is not the actual research itself that is the problem. It is rather about how research is often misused, what type of design concepts and stimulus are tested, and how data is analyzed that is most often at fault. When used correctly, research shouldn’t stifle creativity but rather offer designers stronger inspiration and focus.

The authors then continue with a description of some of the mainstays of modern market research: ethnographic research, focus groups, quantitative eye tracking, and online testing. With each is included the advantages, the challenges and the bottom line.

In the autumn AIGA will also organise its biannual Gain: AIGA Business and Design Conference in New York City.