counter

Putting People First

Daily insights on user experience, experience design and people-centred innovation
Audience Business Culture Design Locations Media Methods Services Social Issues

Children


Disabled


Elderly


Gender


Teens


Advertising


Branding


Business


Innovation


Marketing


Mechatronics


Technology


Architecture


Art


Creativity


Culture


Identity


Mobility


Museum


Co-creation


Design


Experience design


Interaction design


Presence


Service design


Ubiquitous computing


Africa


Americas


Asia


Australia


Europe


Italy


Turin


Blogging


Book


Conference


Media


Mobile phone


Play


Virtual world


Ethnography


Foresight


Prototype


Scenarios


Usability


User experience


User research


Education


Financial services


Healthcare


Public services


Research


Tourism


Urban development


Communications


Digital divide


Emerging markets


Participation


Social change


Sustainability


Posts in category 'Marketing'

13 July 2008

Is user-friendliness a sure marketing bet?

Yann Gourvennec
Yann Gourvennec, head of internet and digital media at Orange Business Services, wonders whether making users’ live easier is a sustainable marketing argument for the development of a business.

The article’s premise intrigued me but it was a disappointing read. Gourvennec just presents the typical and tired argument that user-friendliness is subjective and personal [really?], so you can’t really measure it [no?], and therefore you can’t study its impact on sales and revenues.

Anyway, he says, there are many examples of difficult to use products which have become big commercial successes.

For a site that deals with “visionary marketing”, some more vision would be helpful.

Read full story

(via FutureLab)

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.

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

16 January 2008

How immersive technology can revitalize the shopping experience

IBM
IBM just released a white paper entitled “How immersive technology can revitalize the shopping experience”.

“Truly immersive experiences—which connect with shoppers on an emotional level through personalized dialogues and give them greater control over the shopping experience—are the new frontier in retailing. The immersive retail experience is more about involving the customer than it is about merchandise and merchandising. Think outdoor stores that provide simulated trails or streams for testing equipment, or appliance stores with test kitchens where customers can feel what it’s like to actually use products. In other words, for stores in many retail segments to stay ahead of competitors, they will need to generate the excitement of a theme park ride—and become a destination. […]

Immersive technology solutions—which stimulate people’s visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile senses to connect with shoppers on an emotional level to create unforgettable shopping experiences—can open up a whole new world of energizing shopping experiences. Combined with flexible, responsive business models, they have the potential to transform the way customers interact with your brand. This brief explores how immersive technologies and business strategies can create a brand voice that generates renewed excitement about your store. It also examines IBM’s vision for immersive technologies.”

Download paper

(via the Experience Economist)

8 January 2008

Eataly, the slow and experiential supermarket

Eataly
Last week I visited Eataly again, a fantastic “experiential” supermarket, right here in Torino. Associated with the Slow Food movement, you can dwell in it for hours and feel constantly stimulated, intellectually, sensually and visually.

But I had never written about in those terms. Mea culpa. I was reminded of this gap only when I read the Guinness Storehouse case study on the Design Council website.

The Atlantic Monthly [full article here] calls it the “supermarket of the future”:

“Eataly is an irresistible realization of every food-lover’s gluttonous fantasy, paired with guilt-cleansing social conscience—a new combination of grand food hall, farm stand, continuing- education university, and throbbing urban market. Much like Boqueria, in Barcelona, and Vucciria, in Palermo, two of the few thriving center-city markets left in Europe, Eataly draws all classes and ages at all times of day. The emphasis on local and artisanal producers, education, affordable prices, a lightened environmental footprint, and sheer fun makes Eataly a persuasive model for the supermarket of the future—one that is sure to be widely copied around the world. The question is whether Eataly will bite the hands of the people feeding it, the people it says it wants to help: Slow Food, which is the arbiter and moral center of today’s food culture, and the artisans themselves. “

Monocle carries an excellent video report:

“Housed in a former vermouth factory, Eataly offers the finest artisanal produce from Italian suppliers, all selected with the assistance of Slow Food Italia and accompanied by lovingly compiled details of its provenance and production.”

And also The New York Times featured it, using the opportunity to announce that a smaller version (one tenth the size of the Torino market) will open this spring in a two-level, 10,000-square-foot space in the new Centria building at 18 West 48th Street in New York:

“In January, in what had been a defunct vermouth factory in Turin, [Oscar Farinetti] opened a 30,000-square-foot megastore called Eataly that combines elements of a bustling European open market, a Whole-Foods-style supermarket, a high-end food court and a New Age learning center. […]”

“Artisanal products from some 900 Italian producers fill the store’s shelves, and 12 suppliers (some of which Mr. Farinetti invested in or bought outright) were enlisted as partners. Many of the food items are accompanied by explanatory placards and nearly half of the three-level store is dedicated to educational activities: a computer center, a library, a vermouth museum and rooms for cooking classes and tasting seminars. […]”

“According to management, more than 1.5 million people visited the store in its first six months and sales have exceeded projections.”

In short, for the real experience of fresh products from the Piedmont countryside you need to come to Torino.

2 December 2007

Must see video: “We Think” vs. “The Cult of the Amateur”

Marketing 3
M3, the Dutch marketing conference, was this year devoted to co-creation.

Keynote speakers were Charles Leadbeater (author of We-Think) and Andrew Keen (author of The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture), arguing their “enemy” positions.

Future Lab‘s Alain Thys lets us know that the guys from Marketing3 have just uploaded the videos of both their keynotes and the very sparkling debate that followed their respective speeches.

The second video also contains their lively and entertaining verbal game of chess (starts at 00:22:00).

30 November 2007

Mobile service providers failing to meet corporate customer needs, says Gartner

Business user
Many mobile service providers are failing to capitalise on potentially lucrative corporate contracts because they don’t focus enough on client’s business needs, according to Gartner. Service providers that don’t update their sales strategies to provide tailored solutions to businesses risk losing valuable corporate customers and becoming chiefly consumer players, analysts warned.

“These continue to be very competitive times for mobile service providers with the market near saturation point in many regions,” said Martin Gutberlet, research vice-president at Gartner. “To compete efficiently in this challenging landscape, mobile service providers need to find new ways to improve customer loyalty and retention and this must include corporate contracts. Our research shows that many service providers are not currently doing enough to retain corporate clients in the long-term.”

Many mobile service providers would argue that they already have a dedicated corporate sales force that focuses on business requirements, but Gartner has found that for the most part, providers are not fulfilling these needs. Instead, the focus is on selling SIM cards with complex, non-transparent pricing schemes and giving discounts related to total spending, rather than delivering individual, tailored services.

Read full story

27 November 2007

Apple is creating “a place where you belong”

Bob
Apple has been progressively changing its retail store format over the past year, eliminating cash registers while introducing several new services and increased staffing, to create a more personalized and friendly environment for customers, reports MacNN in an article entitled “Apple overhauls retail customer experience”.
Apple wants to maintain a casual feel in the stores, something that is reflected by its customers as they browse, use internet, or bringing their children in to play at the low-legged tables. “We try to pattern the feeling to a 5-star hotel,” said Apple’s retail chief, Ron Johnson. “It’s not about selling. It’s about creating a place where you belong.”

Read full story

A longer story on the topic was recently published by AP News.

30 September 2007

WARC, huge online marketing database with many relevant papers

WARC
I just took a 7 day trial subscription to the online database of the World Advertising Research Center (WARC) – which allows you the download of 5 papers – and discovered a treasure trove of information.

Two papers in particular caught my attention:

The emperor’s new clothes: technology is useless if consumers can’t use it
Simon Silvester, Market Leader, Spring 2007, Issue 36, pp.20-24
Digital technology is developing at a staggering rate, but there is a danger that it could collapse as the dotcom boom did if companies do not change their attitude to consumers. Consumer ability to understand technology does not rise; consumers (including the young) adopt new products slowly, and with difficulty. Most people use only one or two of the many functions programmed into their equipment, and companies need to understand how innovations spread through a population, and how understanding always falls as mainstream consumers follow the technology nerds who adopt first. They must put the consumer first and become more basic in their marketing. This includes finding the one killer application that is really wanted, instead of adding functions that no-one will use just because it is possible. Simplicity is a primary benefit. The article ends with 15 guidelines for making sure that technological products become user-friendly: they include watching what people actually do, including women and people in emerging markets.

Transforming leisure with ethnography
Caroline Gibbons-Barry, Scott Moshier and Karen Hofman, ESOMAR, Leisure Conference, Rome, November 2006
To offer satisfying experiences, the leisure industry must understand how consumers have adopted a complex, multifaceted and integrated approach to leisure. Profound cultural and values shifts have lead consumers to build uplifting and transformative leisure moments into their everyday lives, changing the standard against which the leisure industry must compete. Ethnography can take leisure purveyors beyond their own facilities to uncover both the contexts that inform consumer mindsets and perspectives, and what resonates with consumers’ inner beings and deepest desires.

Since it’s a subscription based service, I cannot link to the papers but the site has a good search engine. Unfortunately, full subscription is rather expensive.

27 September 2007

Claritas segments the U.S. population

Claritas
Claritas has concluded that 66 types of people live in the suburbs, cities and rural areas of the USA, reports Challis Hodge.

You can view a presentation on their research here. If you are living in the United States, you can look up your neighborhood based on zip code to find out what segments are living next door to you.

No time to visit the site? How about a few examples!

Winner’s Circle
The young, well-to-do parents in this segment live in new-money subdivisions surrounded by golf courses and upscale boutiques. Their plasma televisions are tuned to Nickelodeon, but kids don’t keep them from traveling.
Median household income $102,213
Hangout Broomfield County, Colorado (Broomfield)

God’s Country
These urban refugees have fled to the country seeking a more laid-back lifestyle. Though they travel frequently for business, leisure is a top priority. They read Skiing magazine, drive Toyota Land Cruisers, and tune into the Outdoor Life Network.
Median household income $83,827
Hangout Teton County, Wyoming (Jackson)

Second City Elite
These culture-savvy middle-aged folks without kids splurge on themselves with multiple computers, large-screen TVs, and an impressive collection of wines. They read Inc. magazine, watch Washington Week, and drive around town in Toyota Avalons.
Median household income $74,375
Hangout Dallas County, Texas (Dallas)

3 July 2007

The Nokia “observe and design” brand slide show

First we observe
Nokia’s Keith Pardy and Alastair Curtis produced a slideshow on brand and design priorities, as part of an external presentation to investors at the Nokia Capital Markets Day 2006.

The presentation is all about Nokia’s human approach to technology: i.e. observing first (“the often small, the sometimes big moments of everyday”) and designing later, and turning that int a brand philosophy.

Keith Pardy is strategic vice president of Nokia Strategic Marketing, whereas Alastair Curtis is Nokia’s chief designer.

(via Logic & Emotion)

1 July 2007

Timo Veikkola (Nokia) on a vision of the future

Timo Veikkola
This 20 minute video from the PSFK Conference London 2007 shows the presentation given by Timo Veikkola, senior future specialist 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?

Juliana Xavier provides some more background on her blog “mind the gap”.

Timo Veikkola is an anthropologist; he studies people into culture. As many anthropologists these days he holds a strategic position inside a global corporation. As senior future specialist at Nokia Design, he looks at society to comprehend how there are going to be shifts in behaviour and culture that can inspire their design team. […]

According to him, trends are the manifestation of values and attitudes, of people’s behaviour and reaction to what is happening in the world. Therefore, innovation, be it a product innovation or a different way to communicate it, has to be based on a good observation and informed intuition of what is going on in the present.

Read full report

1 July 2007

Jyske, the Danish experience bank

Jyske Bank
Jyske Bank, Denmark’s third largest financial institution, invested last year 400 million Danish kroner (equivalent to 54m euro or 72m USD) to redesign and brand their bank as an experience bank.

Excerpted from the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies:

Jyske Bank recently fundamentally changed its business concept, so the customer can put together his own banking solution. The bank has focused on the product experience, both “virtually” and in the branch. The bank calls the initiative “Jyske Difference” [“Jyske Forskelle”] and their slogan is “Jyske is the bank that makes a difference.”

In the short process (four months) during which the new business concept has been developed and partially implemented, the bank has been especially inspired by the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies‘ thoughts on Creative Man and the individualization megatrend. As they write to FO/futureorientation:

“Many consumers see banks and bank products as uniform – and a little boring. At the same time, we see that customers are changing behavior. They want more influence; they are more self-reliant while demanding personal service. The creative consumer, who wishes to create his or her own solution, is the coming thing. Consumers want to tailor their own charter vacations, car, and bank product. With the new initiative, the bank can better meet the modern consumer types of the present. With Jyske Difference, Jyske Bank signals that we are more than a bank. Jyske Bank is a bank, a store, and a modern library. Jyske Bank is the place where customers become smarter, inspired, and experience a straightforward atmosphere.”

See also this concept presentation video (2:49).

At the end of August Frank Pedersen, communication- and marketing director at Jyske Bank, will explain what they did and what the result was one year after, at Motion, the brand new experience economy conference in Norway.

23 May 2007

Are design fairs really effective?

London Design Festival
Jude Stewart ponders in a Print magazine article (reprinted by Business Week) if design fairs are really effective in drumming up business, boosting education, and promoting awareness of tomorrow’s next design capitals.

Design fairs make big promises to participants and visitors alike: creative rejuvenation, intelligent debate, matchmaking for employees and partners, convenience for major buyers, a boon to design education, and for tourists, fun. Design fairs represent a new wave in how designers promote themselves. In the past three years, Europe has gone from the twin hegemony of London’s 100% Design and Milan’s Saloni Internazionale del Mobile—both furniture fairs—to a calendar thick with inclusive design events, many in the EU’s emerging member states. As governments, sponsors, universities, and designers pour funds into these events, it’s worth asking: Do they really work? What are they even aiming for?

The article covers the London Design Festival, Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, Budapest Design Week, Istanbul Design Week and Belgrade Design Week.

Read full story

12 April 2007

New tricks and old dogs

New tricks and old dogs
The third episode of the CNBC television series “The Business of Innovation” is devoted to understanding people’s needs.

How can companies with successful businesses convince their customers that change is needed? How do you take old companies, products, processes or systems and make new uses/markets/industries for them?

“It’s not that customers don’t know what they want. It’s rather they don’t say what they want,” says Vikrum Akula, CEO & Founder of SKS Microfinance.

“User innovation has always been around,” says Eric Von Hippel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of Democratizing Innovation (MIT Press). “The difference is that people can no longer deny that it is happening.” Indeed, it is “very likely that the majority of innovation happens this way,” says Mr. Von Hippel. Such innovation, he says, has a “much higher rate of success”.

Episode 3 examines how successful companies use their customers to innovate. Our expert panel offers ways in which customers can be used as a resource as well as methods useful in bringing reluctant customers into the innovation process. (Not to mention ways new customers might be discovered who might want your innovation.)

Featured guests are Meg Whitman, CEO of Ebay, Tom Freston, former president of Viacom, Vikrum Akula, CEO and founder of SKS Microfinance; and Richard Posey, CEO of Moen.

Watch programme

3 April 2007

The Vodafone journey

The Vodafone Journey
One of the sections of Vodafone’s new website is called The Vodafone Journey.

The first item in the menu of this flash-based mini-site are Vodafone’s customers. Ten stories explain how Vodafone has changed the way people work and play. The stories are quite promotional, but they nevertheless clearly emphasise the people-centred approach of the company.

Nice too is that the people featured are from New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Greece, Tanzania, Ireland, Spain, Egypt, UK and Italy, and that everyone speaks their own language.

18 March 2007

The Jan Chipchase controversy: corporate ethnography is “primitive”

Nokia Village Phone research in Uganda
Last week Business Week published an interview with Jan Chipchase, user anthropologist at Nokia Design (and frequently featured on this blog). It didn’t go down very well with Bob Jacobson:

Nokia’s ethnographic research sounds basic, even primitive. It’s akin to Dr. Livingston in “Darkest Africa,” sussing out the “natives”: how many yams they eat in a week, who tells the iconic stories, what clans do to maintain hegemony, etc. Very ho-hum, except that the technology is “cool.” Cellphone ethnographic research, so far as I can tell, studies behaviors related to product use but as the snippet in BW reveals, not the inner workings of cellphone users — how they relate to cellphones in phenomenological ways, for example.

This quote comes from a post on the anthrodesign Yahoo! group which immediately provoked reactions. It is still going on.

Tyler of Sprint Nextel supports Chipchase but arguest that “we need a comprehensive theory of design that works for anthropology (or human research for commerce)”, whereas Sridhar Dhulipala points to a report in the Times of India, Bangalore, on the usage of mobile phones. Whereas the Nokia report strikes as typical corporate leadership behaviour, Dhulipala thinks that this other story provides a contrasting insight.

Christina Bolas, an anthropologist at Sprint Nextel, was recently involved in “true ethnography of cell phone use” beyond the basic “needs assessment” or “behaviors related to product use”, but her main difficulty was “getting the results heard and supported by the pile of people needed to make real change in the industry”. She concludes: “Not only do we need a comprehensive theory of design that works for anthropology, but we also need a theory that takes into account the inevitable world of corporate politics within which that theory must live.”

Finally, Molly Wright Steenson (a former Interaction-Ivrea colleague) underlines the intrinsic value of the ethnographic approach as it greatly change what you expected to find.

18 March 2007

The experience store, a store where you don’t buy [International Herald Tribune]

Samsung Experience Store
The International Herald Tribune reflects on ‘experience stores’, the latest trend in retailing and claims it is a return to the old department store shopping experience, where shopping was treated as theatre as well.

The article claims that Samsung was the pioneer, but I think that NikeTown was at least a decade ahead. When I visited the 57th Street NikeTown in New York in ’95 or ’96, it was all very much about creating the Nike experience, and not much about selling.

“For its first store in the United States, Samsung, the South Korean electronics company, took an unconventional route: It refused to sell anything.

Having leased 10,000 square feet, or 929 square meters, of astoundingly expensive real estate in midtown Manhattan, it instead encouraged customers to commune with its products — to check e-mail on Samsung computers, watch reality shows on Samsung flat-screen televisions and make long-distance calls on Samsung cellphones.

No shopping, only loitering.

Samsung called the new concept an “experience store,” and despite fears from the shopping center’s owners that it would become a costly nap room for New York City’s huddled masses, the idea has caught fire.

Last week, AT&T said it would open 11 experience stores across the United States (though theirs would sell products), joining Motorola, Apple, Sony, Maytag and Verizon in opening such outlets over the past several years.”

Read full story

8 February 2007

Co-leader of IDEO’s Consumer Experience Design Practice on how design can drive growth

Iain Roberts
“Creating a successful brand requires more than visually appealing products. A designer must also consider the holistic experience and contextual use of the product to attract consumers.”

This was the key message of Iain Roberts, co-leader of IDEO’s Consumer Experience Design Practice, speaking about “Persuading through Great Industrial Design” to students from marketing, communications, engineering and design as part of the 2006-2007 Yaffe Center for Persuasive Communication speaker series at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

IDEO is a global industrial design firm whose clients include AT&T, Eli Lilly, Intel, Kraft Foods, Motorola and Proctor & Gamble.

“Roberts identified three key elements of industrial design: Aesthetics (how the product looks), ergonomics (how it works) and manufacturing (how it is made). Mass production is what characterizes industrial design.

Aesthetics, ergonomics and manufacturing are combined with the human factors of empathy, experiences and connections, he said. The designer must consider the consumer’s needs (both expressed and unexpressed), desires and self-image.”

- Read full story
Watch video of presentationAlternate stream (iTunes)