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.