22 April 2012

How user research informed IKEA’s Uppleva TV-furniture unit

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IKEA’s new Uppleva Smart TV-furniture unit was extensively shown at the Milan Design Week (which ends today), and on Core77 I wrote more about the interface design, but here some more about the user research that went into the product.

The user research consisted of two parts: in-home visits and an online survey. The IKEA press kit unfortunately provides very little information on the in-home visits, which is unfortunate, particularly since the results of the online survey are rather straightforward. I therefore hope to update this post later on with more details.

In-home visits
IKEA visits people in their houses and apartments all over the world. The visits were combined with interviews, and carried out in homes of different sizes, income groups, neighbourhoods, and people in a wide range of living situations and living conditions. Marcel Godfroy, who is the Uppleva project lead, writes:

“Fifty percent of IKEA customers wish to renew their living room. We have been visiting people’s homes around the world, and we understood that many people think it is difficult to find functional and beautiful solutions, which hide the clutter and integrate all media devices with the rest of their living room furniture. There simply has been a wish for something else – a complete solution for a new living room experience.”

Online survey
To find out more about how people experience their TV and sound furnishing solutions, IKEA combined the home visits with an online survey conducted in Sweden, Poland, Italy, France and Germany. These are the findings:

  • In all countries, the living room is the most common room to watch TV in. 9 out of 10 German and French consumers watch TV in their living room and almost as many Swedish and Polish. However, a bit fewer Ital­ians, 7 out of 10. (On the other hand, Italian consumers watch TV in the kitchen or the bedroom to a larger extent than consumers in the other four countries).
  • 3 out of 5 Swedish customers have a specific piece of furniture for the TV. 2 out of 5 in Poland, Germany and France, and a third of the Italians have a specific piece of TV furniture.
  • 3 out of 4 people would like less visible cables in their living room. These visible cables and cords ­ or rather the lack of opportunity to hide them ­are also the main reason why people feel dissatisfied with the media furniture today.
  • To Swedish and Polish consumers the media furniture not being stylish is another main reason for dissatisfaction.
  • A majority of the consumers in all five countries would like fewer visible cables.
  • 50% would like to see less of their technical gadgets.
  • 60% OF ALL homes have three remote controls or more. 1­2 out of 10 have only one re­mote control.

Top five reasons for dissatisfaction with living room TV furniture today:

  • Lack of opportunity to hide cords and cables.
  • Media furniture is not stylish enough.
  • Inflexibility.
  • Visible technical gadgets.
  • TV and furniture mis-match.

The online survey by market research institute YouGov comprised 5271 online interviews among a representative sample of the populations in Sweden, Poland, Italy, France and Germany as regards sex, age and region (men and women aged 18-­69 years). The survey was carried out 29th February to 5th March 2012.

It is quite remarkable how fast IKEA went from the online survey to the presentation of a fully functioning product at the Milan Design Week.

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