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Posts in category 'Marketing'

1 February 2007

In Turin, design becomes supreme [La Repubblica]

Torino World Design Capital 2008
Next year, Turin will be World Design Capital. Yesterday, the event was officially presented. Below is (my) translation of an article/interview, written by Marina Paglieri and published today in La Repubblica newspaper. If you want to find out more, you can download an English press kit (pdf, 64 kb, 5 pages).

In less than a year, Turin will be the first World Capital of Design. The countdown has started. Mayor Sergio Chiamparino said during a crowded presentation at the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo auditorium that the event will be a “precise and concrete metaphor for the future opportunities of the city.” An opportunity but also a challenge, because Torino will be the inaugural city of the event, that thereafter will be awarded every two years to cities around the world. Presenting it yesterday were Peter Zec, president of ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, the organisation which promoted the initiative and the nomination of Turin), Carlo Forcolini, president of ADI (the Italian Industrial Design Association), and the members of the Advisory Committee, who met yesterday for the first time to discuss goals and programme plans. They are the acclaimed designer Gillo Dorfles, the architect and critic Enrico Morteo, Guta Moura Guedes, founder of a Lisbon-based association that promotes design culture, and Michael Thomson, future president of BEDA (Bureau of European Design Associations). Also speaking was Giuliano Molineri, former right hand of Giorgetto Giugiaro, general manager (for nearly twenty years) of Giugiaro Design, and currently board member of ICSID and the “spiritual force” behind Turin’s year of design.

Giuliano Molineri, why is Turin World Capital of Design?
“One has to go back a bit. In 2003 our city presented its candidacy, as did 35 other cities, to host the ICSID headquarters. In the end Montreal was selected, but Turin made a big impression through its focus on design as a tool for transformation and socio-economic change. This lead to the idea of nominating the city as the first world capital of the sector: there will be other cities in the future, and they will not be selected from those that are already known design cities, such as Barcelona or Milan, but from those that are in the process of transformation.”

Precisely on that point, Gillo Dorfles said that Milan has always been seen as Italy’s design capital, even if it lost some points recently. Turin had the car, but was not able to diversify and promote other sectors. It will have to do that now, but how?
“It it true. Turin and the region of Piedmont are known worldwide for Giugiaro and Pininfarina, but less for other design excellence. This will be the opportunity to make them more known, with major international promotion. During the 2008 events, Turin will present itself as a project-oriented city, which is able to manage a productive process, thanks to its major industrial history. There is a breeding ground here, a humus, a district of companies and technologies that cannot be found anywhere else [in Italy]. There is the automotive sector, but also aeronautics, airplane design, the growing ITC sector with its focus on wireless, electronics, robotics and component design. And there is production also in many other sectors.”

Some examples?
“There are many to be sold. From home product design, with important companies such as Alessi, Girmi, Bialetti, Lagostina, to textile with Borsalino, Zegna, Piacenza, Loro Piana, Miroglio and Basicnet. From alimentary machinery to food and wine culture, with companies such as Martini, Lavazza and Ferrero. And let’s not forget boating, with the major presence of Azimut, second producer in the world of yachts longer than 28 metres. Or the cinema, from set design to the virtual. Today creativity is translated not just in products, but also in relationships and in communication. And design should be enlarged to a discourse on processes that produce design. I think of [the Turin neighbourhood of] the Quadrilatero Romano, where the original bars and restaurants lead to new connections and meetings, or of a chef like Davide Scabin of Combal.0, who had himself design the plates and the food containers. That and more will be on show next year.”

Will there be competition with Milan?
“No, there is a strong feeling of collaboration. Some people from Milan will be presenting events here. We will need to see how the two cities can best work together on this. Milan has extraordinary strengths in the design of furniture, lighting and fashion, and hosts an international reference point like the Triennale. But now Turin has also joined the design path.”

Is there already a programme of events?
“We will present it in April in Milan, during the Furniture Fair. I can tell you that the event will start around mid-December this year. There will be an exhibition, at a location to be determined, of the objects that have received a Compasso d’oro award, an international competition for young creative people, and a series of activities aimed at the broad population, with a particular focus on students. The events will revolve around some key milestones, such as the opening of the new Automobile Museum and the inauguration at the end of 2008 of the Design Center of Mirafiori.”

29 January 2007

Harvard Business Review features user-centered innovation as breakthrough idea for 2007

Harvard_shieldbusiness_1
The Harvard Business Review has published its annual list of Breakthrough Ideas for 2007, written out in “twenty essays that will satisfy our demanding readers’ appetite for provocative and important new ideas”.

Eric von Hippel wrote the entry entitled “An Emerging Hotbed of User-Centered Innovation“.

Eric von Hippel is the T Wilson Professor of Innovation Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the scientific director of the Danish User-Centered Innovation Lab in Copenhagen. He is the author of Democratizing Innovation (MIT Press, 2005).

“In an array of industries, producer-centered innovation is being eclipsed by user-centered innovation—the dreaming up, development, prototyping, and even production of new products by consumers. These users aren’t just voicing their needs to companies that are willing to listen; they’re inventing and often building what they want.”

“[...] This process of users’ coming up with products is increasingly well documented, and some companies, at least, are actively trying to take advantage of it. But what about governments?”

“[...] Government support has typically come in the form of R&D grants for scientific researchers and R&D tax credits for manufacturers. This focus on technology push has not attracted much controversy. But recent research shows that the 70% to 80% of new product development that fails does so not for lack of advanced technology but because of a failure to understand users’ needs. The emergence of user-centered innovation clearly shows that this near-exclusive focus on technological advance is misplaced.”

“Denmark is taking this sea change in the nature of innovation to heart. In 2005, the Danish government became the first in the world to establish as a national priority, in the words of a government policy statement, ‘strengthening user-centered innovation.'”

“By championing a new innovation paradigm, the Danish government is encouraging numerous methodological flowers to bloom—from programs that improve manufacturers’ understanding of users’ needs (through ethnographic research, for example) to techniques for identifying user-developed innovations that manufacturers can produce.”

Duncan J. Watts wrote another thought-provoking essay, “The Accidental Influentials,” in which he argues that “social epidemics” are not in large part driven by the actions of a tiny minority of special individuals, as is the dominant belief.

“We studied the dynamics of social contagion by conducting thousands of computer simulations of populations, manipulating a number of variables relating to people’s ability to influence others and their tendency to be influenced.”

“Our work shows that the principal requirement for what we call “global cascades”—the widespread propagation of influence through networks—is the presence not of a few influentials but, rather, of a critical mass of easily influenced people, each of whom adopts, say, a look or a brand after being exposed to a single adopting neighbor. Regardless of how influential an individual is locally, he or she can exert global influence only if this critical mass is available to propagate a chain reaction.”

Understanding that trends in public opinion are driven not by a few influentials influencing everyone else but by many easily influenced people influencing one another should change how companies incorporate social influence into their marketing campaigns. Because the ultimate impact of any individual—highly influential or not—depends on decisions made by people one, two, or more steps away from her or him, word-of-mouth marketing strategies shouldn’t focus on finding supposed influentials. Rather, marketing dollars might better be directed toward helping large numbers of ordinary people—possibly with Web-based social networking tools—to reach and influence others just like them.”

Duncan J. Watts is a professor of sociology at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age (Norton, 2003)

(via Bruno Giussani’s Lunch over IP)

17 January 2007

2-year course on design for retail experience at India’s National Institute of Design

NID Design for Retail Experience
“With new malls and retail outlets mushrooming all across [India], thanks to the retail boom, it’s no wonder then that the National Institute of Design (NID) has come up with a unique course called Design for Retail Experience“, writes Kumar Anand in the Ahmedabad section of expressindia.com.

“While the four-semester course, beginning at the institute’s Bangalore campus, is yet to be framed the institute has already conducted an entrance test for the same.”

“The course focuses on retail environment and trends in design of retail spaces including props merchandising and visual merchandising, but a curriculum is yet to be framed. For this specialised course, the institute has consulted various industries and foreign universities. “We are constantly in touch with institutes abroad and are taking their help to understand the trends in retail experiences. With retail being the most common experience, design experience is first tested in retail. Therefore this course will be one of its kind,’’ said Darlie Koshy, director, NID. The institute is also working hard to create a faculty pool to teach close to 15 students in the first batch beginning mid-June.”

“The likes of Grottini Shopsystems, an Italian agency that works towards creating retail brand experiences and developing retail environment, have been approached for framing curriculum. “We are also in touch with the Ontario College of Art and Design, Canada and a few other concerned institutes,’’ Koshy informed.”

Read full story

(thanks, Bob Jacobson)

15 January 2007

Customer-centered experience design: creating loyalty in an experience economy

TechLinks
Cord Woodruff, director of human factors engineering at Definition 6, an Atlanta, Georgia-based eBusiness and IT consultancy, has published a long and in-depth article (part 1, 2, 3, 4) on customer-centered experience design on TechLinks, a web platform for the Georgia technology industry.

Or so I thought.

Until Jesse James Garrett, president of Adaptive Path, pointed me to the original article “Customer Loyalty and the Elements of User Experience” (pdf, 332 kb, 6 pages), published last winter in the Design Management Review, and obviously substantially plagiarised by Woodruff.

Such practices are not only unethical, but also extremely counterproductive, as it doesn’t take much for the truth to appear. After all, what happens in Atlanta, GA quickly reaches San Francisco, CA, via Torino, Italy if need be.

27 December 2006

The price of smartphone complexity

Mobile device
“Incredibly, one in seven mobile phones are returned within the first year of purchase by subscribers as faulty, according to research by Which?,” writes Doug Overton, head of communications at WDSGlobal, in Mobile Marketing Magazine.

“This statistic will doubtless raise eyebrows and drive speculation over product design flaws and standards in build performance. Further analysis into the nature of these returns, however, reveals the even more disturbing statistic that 63% of the devices being returned have no fault.”

“This figure, unearthed as part of a study into mobile device returns trends in the UK, places mobile phone ‘No Fault Found’ returns at a level 13% above the average for the consumer electronics sector.”

“With operators, manufacturers and retailers collectively covering administration, shipping and refurbishment costs approaching £35 per device, this equates to a potential cost to the UK mobile industry of £54 million, and more significantly a global industry cost of $4.5 billion (£2.3 billion).”

So why are so many devices returned without fault? WDSGlobal is working alongside a leading UK mobile retailer to implement mechanisms and services to significantly reduce the impact of the No Fault Found phenomenon. Analysis of over 15,000 monthly calls arriving at the specialist retail returns/diagnostics line provides a valuable insight into the causes behind the trend.”

Read full story

22 December 2006

Fiat engages in online dialogue with its customers

Fiat
“Fiat is promoting its new ‘Bravo‘ car model engaging a transparent and sincere discussion with its potential customers through the blog Quelli che Bravo,” writes Emanuele Quintarelli on his blog.

“The name is not so innovative, mimicking a well known italian soccer related TV program, but the approach is indeed quite new: presenting the ideas, the actual phases of design, drafts, materials, reflections and several considerations about the challenges involved in a 6 week process (for a car this is an extremely fast cycle).”

“Comments are moderated but visitors can still make their points to get answers (and Fiat employees are effectively giving answers) and the blog is well integrated with videos on YouTube and photos from Flickr.”

“The idea is to show the real people that are often hidden behind a product, their faces and their work. Not only strategic analysts or branding managers but also men that assemble the pieces a car is made of.”

Read full story

6 December 2006

Motorola’s Motofone experience website

Motofone experience
Motorola put together a fancy and slick flash website describing how they created the user experience for their new Motofone.

The site gives much insight on the design process including sections on the design of the screen, durability, icons, battery life, audio and disassembly. It also features short audio profiles of the project designers.

The Motofone experience site doesn’t say much however about the user interface and people’s interaction with it, traditionally a weak spot in the Motorola experience, nor does it reveal much about how they actually involved mobile phone users in the process. Instead, it puts the emphasis on form factors and mainly positions the phone as a well-crafted object.

Launch Motofone experience website

17 November 2006

European Market Research Event – Day 2, afternoon

European Market Research Event
Mike Spang, Kodak

Mike Spang has the long job title: “Business Research Director, Document Imaging, Corporate Business Research, Eastman Kodak Company”. He spoke about how Kodak went about creating a satisfying global corporate web experience.

To put it in somewhat of a context, about five years ago Kodak had to rapidly reinvent itself as a digital camera company, and so the website had to also change from a portal for photography to a portal for digital imaging, with 80 percent of the web visitors being regular consumers.

The website also had to provide people with an experience beyond just camera purchasing. As one can read in an article in Business Week that was just published, CEO Antonio M. Perez “aims to make Kodak do for photos what Apple does for music: help people to organise and manage their personal libraries of images. He’s developing a slew of new digital photo services for consumers that he expects to yield higher returns.”

Spang described how Kodak through a clever use of user-centred design and a wide range of usability methods, was able to reinvent its web site, make it truly global and incorporate input from users worldwide.

The techniques used included open ended site surveys, heuristic evaluation, focus groups, cognitive walkthroughs, card sorting, usability testing (in lab, remote, web-based), visitor satisfaction assessments, multivariate design testing, and web traffic analysis.

Since there are more than 50 different national versions of the site, the research took place in the UK, Germany, France, China, South Korea and the United States.

Download presentation (pdf, 2.8 mb, 44 slides)

Emmi Kuussikko, Sulake Corporation

Emmi Kuussikko is a research manager with particular responsibilities for market and user insight at the Sulake Corporation, an interactive entertainment company based in Finland. Sulake is responsible for Habbo Hotel.

Habbo is one of the largest teen online communities in 29 different countries. It is a virtual world for young people, a massively multiplayer online game where teenagers create their own personalised virtual characters and interact with other characters in the community. It has 7 million unique users monthly, mainly in the 13 to 16 year old age range, and over 60 million characters have been created globally.

Since it is the community that creates a truly unique gaming environment and a great deal of the changing content is created by the users themselves, they strongly feel they own the brand and the Sulake Corporation just manages it with them.

Research in this online environment is of course also done online. The user base is very loyal and they are very eager to participate in surveys. So actual data collection is very fast. A survey can collect over 40,000 answers in just a few days.

Here are some of the results from a recent survey done globally.

Most teens spend more time on the internet (>90%) than TV (~60 %). Mobile usage is mainly used for text messages, followed by camera use and game playing. One third listen to music on the mobile phone, especially in the UK and Italy. Teens mostly use the web to stay in contact with their friends: IM and email. Then come games. The research provides also a more detailed insight into youth characteristics regarding life style and values:

  • No 1 value: having warm social relationships with friends and family; no 2 value was having fun, and no 3 was security
  • Many are rather conservative in their values
  • Fame, wealth and influence are important to about half
  • They generally have a very positive self-image
  • They endorse a socially responsible world-view
  • Even thought most claim to be tolerant, many have negative attitudes toward minorities. But they would like to have friends from other countries.

Kuusikko’s presentation started to become really interesting when she presented user segments, and the spread of these segments by country.

The user segmentation was based on a cluster-factor analysis. Trying to create maximum divergence between groups and minimum within, provided an accurate and reliable method for identifying groups with similar characteristics. The variables examined were personality, values, attitudes, subculture membership, areas of interest.

Five user types were found: achievers, traditionals, creatives, rebels and loners.

Sulake also uses a more selective community of 200 users to generate, co-create and test new ideas in a continuous and open dialogue.

I hope to be able to add a download to Kuusikko’s presentation shortly.

Mehmood Khan, Unilever

Mehmood Khan is the eccentric thinker who is the Global Leader of Innovation Process Development at Unilever.

Unilever‘s mission is to “add vitality to life”. It manages 400 brands spanning 14 categories of home, personal care and foods products “that help people look good, feel good and get more out of life”.

Khan has been with Unilever since 1982 and has worked in wide areas of the business: marketing, exports, procurement, business development and innovation. He has been pioneering new business for Unilever in places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia and North Korea, along with developing new portfolios in China and other countries in East Asia.

In his presentation, entitled “A holistic approach to innovation”, Khan described the key features of Unilever innovation.

According to Khan, innovation is about turning creativity in a successful enterprise. At Unilever innovation is customer-focused which allows the company to keep its brands connected to people’s lives. The innovation learnings and in particular the customer focus have also shaped the vitality brand strategy.

Download presentation (pdf, 136 kb, 17 slides)

17 November 2006

European Market Research Event – Day 2, morning

European Market Research Event
Due to travelling, it took me a few days to write up my summary of the Tuesday presentations at the European Market Research Event, but here we are. In this write-up I will concentrate on five speakers: James Surowiecki, Roula Nasser in the morning session, Mike Spang and Emmi Kuusikko and Mehmood Khan in the afternoon.

James Surowiecki, author of “The Wisdom of Crowds”

James Surowiecki is an extremely well-skilled public speaker. He managed to give a detailed and well-structured 45 minute presentation on his book “The Wisdom of Crowds” with many examples, without notes and without slides.

His argument is that crowds are often smarter collectively than even the smartest individuals it contains. He claims that “If you can figure out ways to tap into the collective intelligence of your organisation and the collective intelligence of your consumers, you can radically change your capability to resolve problems and to forecast the future.”

Surowiecki gave many examples of how that is being done:

  • NASA using volunteers to classify Martian craters in a programme called Clickworkers,
  • Iowa Electronic Markets: the use of markets to predict elections. People buy and sell shares to predict the outcome of US Presidential elections. They were more accurate 3/4 of the time than any Gallup poll.
  • Hollywood Stock Exchange. People buy and sell shares in how well movie releases will do. They give a better answer than any other method. They also picked 7 out of 8 of the major Oscar winners.
  • Other examples include HP where employees could buy or sell shares in how well printer sales were going to do, and it outperformed internal forecasts. Siemens also used this technique to predict how long a particular software product development is going to take. Microsoft has also done something similar, and Google has launched PROPHET, which predicts 200 events of all kinds and they have been almost perfectly correct.

But crowds only act intelligent under three conditions:

  1. Aggregation. It is about the aggregate judgment of lots of individuals, not about consensus.
  2. Diversity. The crowd, the group is cognitively diverse with differences of perspective and differences of heuristics. Homogeneous groups tend to reinforce their own thinking. Diversity mitigates this effects of peer pressure, which can be very powerful.
  3. Independence. The people within the crowd act independently. They think for themselves and rely on their own information, own ideas. Our natural tendency to imitate and protect our reputation can move us away from this independence.

According to Surowiecki, one of the implications for market research is that you want to ask people not what they think of a product, but instead you want to ask the question: “how successful do you think this product is going to be” or “how many people do you think will buy this product by February”.

Roula Nasser, P&G

Roula Nasser is Director of Customer and Market Knowledge of the Global P&G Beauty.

Her talk, entitled “Driving Consumer & Market Understanding to New Heights: A Roadmap for Success” set out a market strategy and vision, but was unfortunately a bit weak on examples.

P&G has put a lot of emphasis on focusing on the future, or in their own jargon: from hindsight, to insight, to foresight. To do that, they have been investing a lot on new capabilities to get at consumer attitudes; on understanding the changing dynamics of the marketplace, particularly the differences between the developed and the developing world; and on making research and researchers strategic.

Nasser then went on to say how important it is to have visible support from company leaders, and went into a long and elaborate praise of A.G. Lafley who is P&G’s chairman, president and CEO.

Lastly, she stressed how important it is to think about consumers in new ways, by seeing them as people and developing a more personal relationship, and to use more involved shadowing techniques, which they call “Walk with Me”: go and visit people in their homes; live on the budget of a low-income consumer for a week; shop with consumer’s grocery list, budget and children; serve in jobs where P&G products are used.

The examples, from China and South Africa, illustrated how such an approach can lead to real benefits for advertising. There were however no examples of what this deeper people-centred approach might mean for P&G’s product innovation.

8 November 2006

In London next week

European Market Research Event
Next week I will be in London to attend the European Market Research Event and to blog from the conference.

I am listing here just a handful of the many speakers of the three-day event (in no particular order) to give you an idea: Anne Kirah, Senior Design Anthropologist Customer Design Center, MSN/Microsoft Corporation; James Surowiecki, Author, “The Wisdom Of Crowds“; Roula Nassar, Director Global Hair Care Consumer and Market Knowledge, Procter & Gamble; Flemming Ostergaard, Marketing Innovation Director, LEGO and Helene Venge, Global Marketing Manager, LEGO Interactive; Anat Amir, Head of Product Experience and Research, O2; Valerie Bauwens, Senior User Researcher, The Customer Observatory, SWISSCOM; Clive Grinyer, Director of Design, France Telecom Orange; Margaret Alrutz, Senior Design Researcher, Steelcase Iterative Design and Customer Feedback; Francesco Cara, Director Nokia Design, Insight, and Innovation, Nokia.

There are many more.

So read this blog if you want to know what the event is all about. A second edition is already planned for June 2007.

(And if you are around in London or at the conference, please let me know.)

3 November 2006

Goodbye, mobile phone bills. Hello, advertising. [International Herald Tribune]

Blyk
Pitching itself as the world’s first advertising-supported phone company, a Finnish company called Blyk plans to roll out a free mobile phone service next summer aimed at 16- to 24-year- olds, first in Britain and then elsewhere in Europe, writes Thomas Crampton in the International Herald Tribune.

“Crucial to Blyk’s system will be creating advertisements that attract users, said Antti Ohrling, co-founder of Blyk and chairman of Contra Advertising, based in Finland.”

“We intend on only advertising information that people want and in a fun way,” Ohrling said. “To succeed, we must offer an enjoyable and simple user experience.”

As one could expect, the company’s staff list is filled to the brim with former Nokia people, including its CEO Pekka Ala-Pietilä, a former president of the Nokia Corporation, and Marko Ahtisaari, its highly regarded director of brand and design, who is a former Director of Design Strategy at Nokia (and son of a former Finnish president).

But claiming an advertising supported mobile phone operator as a “disruptive and potentially revolutionising new medium” seems a bit much.

Read full story

UPDATE: 7 November 2006

Meanwhile Business Week picks up on the story. It also underlines the “gold-plated” make-up of the company. Apparently the billionaire chairman of the German software maker SAP is one of the investors. But the question remains: “Why are so many smart people backing a company that has no revenue and doesn’t even plan to start operating until next year?”.

The trick is in the advertising. “Messages will be targeted to users and be integrated seamlessly with the handset.” Advertising will “never interfere with the primary function of the phone” and “if you do it in the right way, it’s something people [will] find useful and fun.”

“If the company’s approach proves successful, industry watchers say, it could dramatically affect the mobile phone industry and pose a serious threat to existing operators.”

Though Blyk will function as a “so-called mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, meaning it will market service under its own brand but use the wireless network of an operator still to be named”, the company still faces serious challenges.

“For example, getting young people to sign up for the service will be a challenge, as will the logistics of shipping customers the SIM cards they need to use, and making sure the technology works. [...]“

“Blyk must also convince advertisers. [...] It will be difficult to measure what effect the ads are having.”

Read full story

3 November 2006

Adidas sports performance store in Paris: it is all about the interactive experience

Adidas cube
The Germany-based sportswear brand opened its Mi Innovation Center on the Champs-Elysées. It’s a tech, fashion, and custom-design wonderland, writes Business Week.

“At the futuristic 1,750-square-meter store, the largest Adidas store in the world, shoppers can browse the latest trends (Stella McCartney-designed skiwear and faux fur vests from rapper Missy Elliot) while immersing themselves in interactive technologies.”

“The focal point of the innovation center is a large, sleek black cube. Customers simply point at images on the cube and laser and infrared technologies interpret their gestures, converting them to commands. Radio frequency identification (RFID)-activated monitors give detailed information on Adidas product at the pointing of a finger.”

“Heinrich Paravicini, the director of Mutabor, the German communication design agency that contributed to the design of the cube, says that technology alone won’t draw in shoppers. It’s all about the interactive experience. ‘When people are shopping they don’t want to learn,’ he says. ‘They want to be entertained.'”

Read full story

20 October 2006

David Polinchock on creating a retail brand experience

Ralph Lauren window shopping
In an article in the premiere issue of Marketing at Retail, David Polinchock of the Brand Experience Lab looks at the key developments today in creating a compelling, authentic and relevant retail brand experience.

Polinchock discusses the growing trend of socialisation in the retail space and claims that retail innovators like Starbucks and the Apple stores have boomed because they have created a social space rather than a retail space.

He also writes about the impact of mobile technologies (including cell phone shopping, Bluetooth technologies in billboards, Nokia’s CoolZone and podcasting), and about new display experiences, e.g. with directional sound, interactive user interfaces or holographic projection systems. At the end of the four page article, Polinchock explores some upcoming technologies such as multi-touch sensing, combining the real world with the virtual world, online role-playing games

Download Marketing at Retail (pdf, 3.59 mb, 60 pages – Polinchock’s article is on pages 29-33)

(Note that pages 34 to 38 contain an article on experiential marketing by Jeff Sheets, advertising professor at Brigham Young University)

10 October 2006

Bob Jacobson on advertising and experience design

Denuo
Bob Jacobson is one of the more thoughtful thinkers on experience design and the commentary he provides on his Total Experience blog is therefore frequently cited on Putting People First.

Yesterday he analysed how the advertising profession has opened a more systematic approach to experience design.

More in particular he looks at three initiatives: the Consumer Experience Practice of the Interpublic Group (IPG), Denuo of the Publicis Groupe, and the independent Brand Experience Lab.

(I might want to add Arc Worldwide, also of the Publicis Group.)

Bob provides a lot of insight in who is actually working for these initiatives, what their agenda is, and what that might mean for the field. He also goes into some depth on the Brand Experience Lab, which he thinks is “the most appealing for its holism”.

But more is needed, he concludes, to get the advertising industry to really address experience design issues, beyond the online world.

“Whatever happened to the industry’s paradigm-shifters? The advertising world is in the throes of the biggest upheaval since the advent of TV, and the revolutionaries are nowhere to be found. Instead, there are predictable arguments from predictable sources: The old-media mavens espouse the importance of integrated solutions with new media, and new-media moguls chatter politely about spreading the wealth with network TV.”

Read full post

6 October 2006

Customer-centric digital signage in retail environments

Retail experience
“A retail executive who is considering a digital signage system shouldn’t let the tail wag the dog,” writes Peter Vrettas in Extended Retail Solutions. “Content, rather than hardware or software, drives digital signage. And the best digital signage systems are focused on customer-centric content – messaging that puts your customers first by telling them what they want to know, delivered in a way that they enjoy. If you can communicate a relevant message and allow customers to control their shopping experience, you’re more likely to gain their loyalty and ultimately their business.”

“Using RFID and other technologies, digital signage systems can be designed to work at the department and individual levels, targeting specific customer profiles with the type of product information they want, delivered in the way they want to receive it.”

“Today’s digital signage systems have also transformed customer communications into a two-way street. They also allow retailers to receive important information on customer preferences and buying patterns that can impact vendor selection, buying, inventory and other supply chain decisions.”

Read full story

(via the NEXT retail experience, a blog of Alexander Wiethoff)

4 October 2006

Philips: LiveSimplicity

LiveSimplicity
It’s been a couple of years ago since Philips launched their “Sense and Simplicity” slogan. With this slogan Philips tries to underline their goal to design products that are easy to use and understand.

But what is simplicity? Recently, Philips has launched the online LiveSimplicity forum, on which people have a chance to tell what simplicity means to them. And to discuss about it with others.

According to the site, “maybe one day we’ll find all the solutions” to this question.

(via Bruce Nussbaum and SteveWeb)

4 October 2006

Trendwatching.com on status skills

Viking Cooking Schoool
The people from trendwatching.com have identified a new trend which they have dubbed “status skills”:

Their definition:
“In economies that increasingly depend on (and thus value) creative thinking and acting, well-known status symbols tied to owning and consuming goods and services will find worthy competition from ‘status skills': those skills that consumers are mastering to make the most of those same goods and services, bringing them status by being good at something, and the story telling that comes with it.”

They note that this is not an anti-business trend. “It still relies on a dominantly capitalist system, in which consumption remains important, yet is partly replaced by another highly valued, status-providing activity: mastering skills, and the show & tell circus that comes with it. Which opens entirely new markets for both providers of skills, and those skillful consumers who may become competing producers of (niche) goods and services.”

“Furthermore, ‘skills’ joining tangible, shiny things and mind-blowing experiences as providers of status is by no means the only shift to watch in the status space. What if a ‘doing the right thing’ lifestyle gains in appreciation? Where does leading an eco-friendly existence fit in, and the praise that one increasingly will get from that? Or the virtual world, in which one’s gaming skills, or one’s profile popularity (and number of friends), or even the appearance of one’s avatar determine how much praise or scorn is received?”

The trend report is structured in three areas:

  • Dedicated status skills provider: “entities that are exclusively dedicated to helping consumers to acquire skills”;
  • Corporate classes: “brands that are assisting consumers in acquiring skills as a way to make the most of their purchases from that brand”;
  • “Ventures that enable consumers to show off their skills“.

Read trend report

26 September 2006

Ethnographic research on teens and brands

Super influencer
Starcom MediaVest Group (a subsidiary of the Publicis Group) and CNET Networks, Inc. revealed the results of an ethnographic study on teens and brands.

The extensive ethnographic youth study was aimed at “helping marketers understand how to reach today’s elusive population of 13- to 34-year-olds, responsible for $600 billion each year in consumer spending”.

The study set out to assess “how young people feel about brands, how they talk about them with friends, and how they take in, manipulate, and redistribute marketing messages”. In addition, the study identifies ‘brand sirens’, i.e. “the super-influencers of the youth market, including who they are, what they do, and how marketers can better reach them”.

Not surprisingly (in light of the sponsors), the study shows that “today’s young people care about the brands they use, talk often with their friends about brands, and like watching real-time television”.

- Read press release
Go to study website
Download presentation (pdf, 29.3 mb, 58 slides)

23 September 2006

Ethnography and philanthropy: giving is aspiring

Ethnography and Philanthropy
If we take as the assumption that “modern American philanthropy is a consumer marketplace”, then “what, in consumer marketing terms, causes consumers to act; specifically to buy (in commercial terms) or to give?”

This is the starting question in an article written by Tom Watson, publisher of the free onPhilanthropy web publication.

“Can ethnographers help to create the perfect cause? And if nonprofits want to adopt this increasingly important area of social science to mimic their corporate cousins to design campaigns and causes based what anthropologists tell us what are the implications for philanthropy?”

“Clearly, if nonprofits are chartered to serve the public good, the pure creation of products to appeal to consumer interest runs counter to our mission. Those of us raising funds for nonprofits do so because those organizations do worthy things, not because we need to increase marketshare (as worthy a goal as that clearly is for corporations). The role of the consumer anthropologist in philanthropy becomes clearer, I think, when you peer inside an organization’s ongoing fundraising and communications. Here, within the structure of raising and spending funds for a cause, experimentation has been going on for many decades. Any nonprofit involved in a serious direct marketing program must test new methods of attaining donors, almost by definition. At trade shows and conferences, I’ve seen plenty of really visionary fundraisers talk about envelopes, streaming video, clever giveaways, and a wide spectrum of rewards marketing. Even in major gifts at the top of the fundraising food chain good practitioners create “product” all the time: in the form of naming opportunities, events, giving circles and the like.”

“What every good fundraiser has to realize is that the particular consumer marketplace that philanthropy inhabits is almost entirely aspirational.”

“When we make the decision to give, it is based on a relatively simple checklist of smaller decisions all of which have to do with how we see ourselves in the world. Brand managers in the consumer world have long understood this. Remember the phrase, “you are what you drive?” You can apply it to what you eat, where you live, what you wear, watch or listen to and how you give.”

“When we make a gift, it is less transactional certainly than a purchase. The desire to fund change, to help the poor, to better society is real and it goes beyond the purely commercial. But we also aspire as we give.”

Read full story

23 September 2006

Branching out [The New York Times]

Branching out
Certainly the message you would get if you were to visit the Umpqua branch in Portland’s trendy Pearl District neighborhood seems only vaguely related to the mundane business of certificates of deposit, checking accounts and loans. With free wi-fi access, Umpqua brand coffee, a spacious seating area and flat-screen television monitors, the place has been designed to suggest a stylish hotel lobby where you’re tempted to hang out (and, perhaps, read a tastefully printed brochure about certificates of deposit, checking accounts and loans). This and other Umpqua branches also serve as the setting for things like sewing groups, yoga classes and movie nights. Actually, the word “branch” is not used in Umpqua’s official internal terminology: the bank operates 127 “stores” in Oregon, California and Washington. As Lani Hayward, who oversees “creative strategies for the company,” explains, Umpqua sees itself as a retailer.

The reason for this strategy is the same one that leads companies across many sectors to play the lifestyle card: a proliferation of competitors peddling largely interchangeable wares. If a bank wants to stand out, it’s fairly difficult to do so with the financial products it offers. It can, however, differentiate the manner in which it sells and packages those products. This is more or less the approach that Umpqua’s C.E.O., Ray Davis, has taken over the past dozen years or so. When he started, Umpqua was just another small regional bank, with about $150 million in deposits. Today (because of acquisitions, in addition to building new branches), the figure has increased to more than $7 billion.

Read full story (permanent link)