You can see the full report Download Sharing-new-buying-collaborative-economy-report. It's a pretty comprehensive reference for those interested in collaborative economy. Recommended.
You can see the full report Download Sharing-new-buying-collaborative-economy-report. It's a pretty comprehensive reference for those interested in collaborative economy. Recommended.
Clothes and cityscapes. Clothes and food. Clothes and sunsets. That's what I mostly like on Instagram. So fashion brands being there is mostly a gigantic bonus for me. It turns out, I am definitely not the only one, as Instagram is quickly becoming one of the top online shopping destinations. While e-commerce is still not part of the app, the browsing - a.k.a. the virtual window shopping is. Instagram strengths are in the really careful curation of displayed items (the bar for artsy/beautiful/lifestyle photos on Instagram is pretty high) that are interspersed with the photos of friends (and food. and sunsets). More than impersonal Facebook or Twitter update blasts, meant for mass audience, Instagram photos exude a sense of craftsmanship and personality (while also being meant for wide audience).
A free advice for fashion brands: post a link to displayed products for each of your photos. Drive users to product page. Every opportunity is conversion opportunity. You'd not believe how much traffic you'll get.
Image above is a pic of Prada magazine ad, from my Instagram account.
There is an ever increasing number of people who claim that their relationship with technology is a deeply emotional endeavor. Just look at “Her:” humans are depicted as emotional-connection craving beings; in return, technology wanted nothing but independence from us. Interesting as it may be, there is a real happening in the next-gen apps that monitor our heart rate, facial expressions and warmth of our skin to understand whether we are happy, cranky or tired.
The so-called “emotional data layer” can indeed help our interactions. It can make them more personalized, effective or more fun. In other words, it can make an experience more seamless a.k.a usable.
The ultimate role of emotional technology is better usability. I like this thought.
This ring is the lord of them all. It’s something like the Sauron of rings. By putting it on, you can write anything you want in the air, and all the machines and humans around you will obey. Well, maybe not the humans. But you get the idea.
The ring’s magical powers are due to the combo of Bluetooth, a touch sensor, a few motion sensors, LED, vibration motor and a connection with iPhone. It’s the iPhone that actually reads all that air-writing and executes commands.
While the mechanism can seem a bit clunky and unintuitive (um, writing in the air?), this idea is pretty much aligned with where the gestural interactions and invisible technology are going. Check out the Ring’s Kickstarter here.
Once it reaches mainstream, it will be a wonderful thing for blind people, but it is a sort of field day for the rest of us, too. Fujitsu's next-gen touchscreens, unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week, will allow us to feel haptic sensations from our screens. If we are watching a video of water, we would feel its slippery surface. If we are looking at the picture of rocks, we would be able to feel them, too.
The technology behind the haptic screen sounds pretty sci-fi today, but I am sure it will become run-of-the-mill in a few years. Fujitsu uses ultrasonic waves to vibrate the air at the very top of the screen, effectively turning air into a flexible, responsive surface giving off the impression of different textures. Pretty smart.
For everyone who lives in New York and rides the subway, this is a godsent idea. But first: how many times you turned your head in disgust trying to remain civil and at the same time cursing the person next to you on a crowded car who didn't cover their mouth when coughing? Well, yes.
Enter the Sough. It's a nice-looking scarf (forget those surgical masks) with a hidden filter that purifies the air we are breathing, on the subway and off. It fends the germs away, and when placed directly over the mouth, allows its wearer to breathe in the bacteria-free air (or nearly.)
Get yours here!
This technology got me pretty excited.
ThirdLove is an unfortunately named app that allows women to easily find bras that fit them based on the selfies they have stored on their smarphones, in combination with technology which uses computer vision and image recognition algorithm to size the women up. The outcome is not only recommendations of best bras for you, but bras made to be best for you.
It's like having an ultimately personalized shopping experience literally at the palm of your hand. Once this technology expands to other categories, like shoes and jeans and dresses, it's going to take e-commerce to a completely new level. Actually, it already have taken it.
This is a pretty amazing resource. It’s basically a compilation of all possible wearable devices, organized by the area of the body where they are worn and by the function that they perform (wellness, entertainment, lifestyle, etc). The site is incredibly easy to navigate and incredibly useful for your next brainstorm.
This is incredibly interesting - knowing what kind of content your audience is going to be eager to watch before you create it can easily be the single biggest Hollywood dream. And Netflix is living it.
“What Netflix found was that their subscribers really enjoyed political dramas. They also knew that movies starring Kevin Spacey or directed by David Fincher (Fight Club) seemed to be very popular and highly rated. Using this data intelligence, the company that was in the movie delivery business launched into the movie making business and developed its first exclusive show.”
The result? For the first time, the video subscription service surpasses HBO in number of domestic subscribers. You can read the article where the quote above is from here.
Behavioral economics is a fascinating field of study - and not only because it zoomed in on human irrationality that occurs outside the domain of emotions. Behavioral economics combines the fields of psychology, economics, sociology and culture into a scientific method that enables us to study lofty topics like happiness, decision-making, planning for the future, default choices, experience vs. memory, and judgment, with rigor previously not thought possible. I am a big fan.
I stumbled upon this great article on Daniel Kahneman in the words of his peers - Steven Pinker, Richard Thaler, Nassim Taleb, and others. Give it a read.
AARP, take notice. Or rather, change your model, because American retirees are not the same they were even 10 years ago. Today, they seem to be more of entrepreneurial risk-takers than Ovaltine-before-bed-drinking fellows.
The picture isn't all that rosy, of course: some of retirees-to-be pick a risker path in their later years because they don't have enough retirement money to live comfortably; others are unhappy with job opportunities out there after the age of 50. Either way, retirees of America decided to take the matters in their own hands. The fact is that we live longer and healthier, and that we simply need things to fill out our time - and make a living - after the not-so-old anymore age of 65.
So how can AARP and retirement banking can help them? Instead of showing imagery of the "dusk" years and exhausting the learnings on "how to prepare" for retirement, the welcome add-on would be "how to prepare" for entrepreneurial career after the corporate job. The importance of retirement savings and retirement mode of life are nothing to sniff at to be clear; it just needs to be complemented with the actual lifestyle and business needs of those that these programs are targeting.
Community, tools, and entrepreneurial advice, experience sharing, access to VC and advisors, crowdfunding, and a network of likeminded, experienced senior entrepreneurs can definitely help. Banks especially should jump on this: they can become leaders in enabling entrepreneurial saving programs and organizing finances for those who wish to found their own company. Saving for retirement than becomes "investment in the business venture," which is much more tangible and proactive act.
There is an entrepreneurial opportunity in this macro-trend, too. Retirees are a vast, well-defined market. They have been considered a niche so far based on the limited, job market framework (of those who participate in the job market and those who don't, retirees belonging to the latter category). Focusing on a niche and serving their unmet needs has so far been proven to be extremely viable business tactic. Entrepreneurial retirees have a ton of unmet needs, and a respectable scale. So far, the opportunities they are pursuing are outside of what financial and other retirement insitutions are providing. It may be time to make a business out of it.
The name is a bit silly, but everything else about this program is amazing. "Give-and-Tako" started in the city of Geneva, where orderly Swiss citizens now can exchange items best described as "one person's junk is another person's gold." Designated boxes called Neighborhood Exchange Boxes are peppered throuhgout the country to make giving (and taking) so easy and convenient that the hope is one day it becomes a routine habit, like exercising or brushing one's teeth.
When I saw an article title "Google Analytics for Physical Environments," my heart skipped a beat. It would be a retailer's dream; it would mark the beginning of accountability in traditional advertising and the beginning of bolder and braver experimentation in the digital one.
It turns out, this is an art project. This fact doesn't diminish its ingeniousness, but it left me wondering how come that we haven't made it a priority to implement some kind of standardized, reliable metrics into our offline environments.
The mechanics of "offline world metrics," seems straightforward enough. Gallery Analytis, as the art project was called, used a mesh wi-fi network and custom-made software. This enabled it to track movements of every wi-fi enabled device at the location. Gallery Analytis is consequently able to offer analysis of visitors movements and extrapolate insights based on it.
Let's get on it, Google!
"Creative people thrive on serendipity, spontaneous interactions, moments of ribald humor, intense debate or just simple eye contact, and I felt as if I was losing myself. I decided that it was time to act. So I tried an experiment. I just stopped saying yes and started saying no to things." - Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer at IDEO
Good read in yesterday's NYT.
The speed of online deliveries has become critical competitive differentiator between retail brands. Same-day delivery programs in the UK, Walmart delivery crowdsourcing and Google Express have invented new programs to cover "the last mile" between the customer and their order as quickly as possible because that was something Amazon doesn't do.
Amazon is allegedly playing with the "anticipatory shipping" patent, which selects items to be shipped to consumers before they even purchase them. In filtering which items we may want to buy before we know it, Amazon considers "previous orders, product searches, wish lists, shopping-cart contents, returns and even how long an Internet user’s cursor hovers over an item." (italics mine)
Demand prediction sounds like something from a sci-fi novel, but it isn't. The amounts of data that Amazon has is massive, and we, human beings, are much less fickle than what we'd like to think (enter here the entire debate on the free will).
For example, we buy bestseller books because they are bestsellers or that t-shirt because everyone else is wearing it or rain boots because it's raining - all Amazon needs to do is to pre-fill its shipment labels and patiently wait for us to click that buy button to fill in the rest.
The race for the last mile is becoming ever more interesting.
Great digital brands are built around great customer experience. (And they have to, as customer experience is their business). Think Warby Partker, Net-a-porter or AirBnB. All of them focus on making customer interactions as frictionless as possible, with as little pain points. Design thinking helps a great deal in this process. Design thinking methodology favors making of hypothesis and then using user research, brainstorms, storyboards, "what ifs" and scenario thinking to test those hypothesis and arrive at the optimal - most viable, feasible and desirable - customer solution.
This is a great article on how AirBnB uses storyboard method to visualize their customer experience. Have a look.
I will need this a lot and often.
"Weightless" audio track is created by Marconi Union together with the British Academy of Sound Therapy. What makes it unique is that it's the result of a scientific study searching for the "most relaxing song ever." Mindlab scientist concluded that the song reduced anxiety of its test listeners by 65% and lowered their resting pulse rates by 35%.
I am listening to it right now.
Glimpse is a new dating app that offers, well, a glimpse into the interests, passions and observations of Instagram users. Based on this information – a.k.a. photos that a user has posted – Glimpse finds a romantic match for them. If you love photos of bridges, city scenes, and details, out there just may be someone for you who loves the same things. Glimpse allows you two to connect and start chatting. The idea is pretty good, as we express ourselves the best when we are not trying to intentionally do so. Dating profiles are quite artificial environments where we are boxed into specific information categories by design. Glimpse is a aimed at solving that by turning content into a medium of self expressions (my interest are who I am) and into the social object (something to talk about). Try out Glimpse here.
Nothing reminds people of there overconsuming, asset accumulating, wasteful ways. It's a black wooden block that sells for a hefty $48, which is kinda steep price for "nothing." But the idea is good. Hopefully, the block will indeed work as a nudge for people to enjoy everything else they already have in their lives rather than becoming a status symbol for a person who owns it (only the limited edition of black blocks was produced, so if you have one, you're already ahead of the pack.)
If rear-facing camera on smartphones was a technology that enabled the explosion of the selfie, then 3D printing is technology that is potentially behind the revolution in our relationship with ourselves.
We have Shapify.me to thank for this. The service uses motion sensors in a Microsoft Kinect to scan the body of a person interested in having his/her own statue. Once 3D scan is complete, and the customer chooses the version they like most, Shapify sends the scan to a 3D printing company Sculpteo, which is responsible for turning the scan into a statue. In a matter of days, happy newlyweds or someone with immense love of themselfies can have another object to adorn their home (or office desk). Best of all, you can finally print that imaginary boyfriend of yours in real-life size!
Once 3D cameras come to our smartphones, this will become a routine. I need to set a room in my apartment for all statues of me me me throughout life. Can't wait to playact for guests all the most important events of my life as they happened. It's going to be totally awesome.
If you think that the photo above implies that something dreadful is going to happen, blame your own imagination for it. The pic is depicting a scene from the online shopping site Lamoda's currier/stylist service. This high-touch service personally delivers items ordered online to one's home, let's customers try the items on, offer advice (when asked), packs up the items customers did not like after all, and charges them for those they did.
Although I am typically scared of anything coming out from Russia, this is actually a great example of problem-solving. Lamoda's seemingly luxurious, highly personal service was born out of necessity. Russian postal service is notoriously unreliable and international curriers like DHL are too pricey for the average consumer. Enter trained & unformed personal stylists who bring your package to your door. (This solution probably addresses the unemployment in Russia, too).
Coincidentally enough, online retailers get ahead with customer-centered innovation, more than with any other kind of improvements. Moda Operandi's real-time commerce propelled this brand into the forefront of digital luxury retailers, Amazon's "let me ship this to you before you even buy it" secures rise and rise of this everything shop, and free shipping pretty much took all online retailers on the entirely new level. Not to mention the gains resulting from m-commerce.
Accident or not, Russian Lamoda is right up there with the best of them. (That image still looks creepy, tho).
Credit: Fyodor Savintsev for Bloomberg Businessweek
Going through security at the airports is probably one of the most unpleasant things connected with flying (topped only by discovery that you have a middle seat between a screaming baby and a grumpy elder). That's probably because the process of going through security check was never really considered from the point of view of those who have to go through it - humans. The situation was designed from the security point of view: how to minimize chances that someone is going to smuggle something on the plane that can cause considerable damage to others? This is a valid POV, but so is the human-centered one. They are also not exclusive. That is to say, if the situation has been designed with the focus on human experience, rather than just on design of service, we would be able to achieve both.
A recent Fast Company article detailed a quite nice idea by two SVA students on how to make the airport security experience more pleasant to those who have to grow though it. I enjoyed the article, but I couldn't help thinking that improving the experience can't involve only creating a more human messaging and gestures aimed to shift passangers' perceptions. This is a short-term, superficial gain aimed at changing the image of TSA rather than the experience it provides. It doesn't solve the problem that security process truly lacks is empathy and the holistic view of the situation (otherwise known as design thinking).
As of today, only humans can provide this empathy and a holistic, experience-focused understanding. To change security experience, it is the behavior of security employees that needs to change. A mindset of protection, respect and caring would be nice, for starters. Flexibility and empathy would help a lot, too. Considering the entire experience through passangers eyes would seal the deal.
Security employees are in the experience business. For them be successful, the premise needs to become their delivering a superior customer experience. This scenario doesn't seem terribly realistic right this moment, but at least it's a possibility.
Moda Operandi is something of a digital fashion forerunner. First, it allowed its customers to shop runaway items only days after the show. Now, it takes the runway-sales cycle up a notch, with its new mobile app that allows fashion-obsessed to “yay” or “nay” the runaway looks in real time. Once the “yay” looks become available for sale couple of days later, you are of course the first to know. This is a great example of putting together content, commerce and game mechanics in one.
Path to a home-cooked meal has never been shorter. Literally.
Cooked up (um) by three Londoners,Eatro is a crowdsourced service that allows ordering homemade meals from one's neighbors. Willing and able home chefs can list their services on Eatro, and their hungry co-habitants can browse types of food, discover what's on offering nearby and buy a meal.
Eatro basically zoomed-in on an unmet demand of busy people living in big cities: their desire for a good, home-cooked food. Then it built a business around it (Eatro charges chefs 12%).
Minibar is the new on-demand alcohol service, described creatively as “the easiest way to lift your spirits.” There may be some truth to it. After signing up, users are prompted to enter their zipcode and their favorite drink, and to sit back and relax. In just under an hour, they can expect their delivery. This app is perfect for parties that run out of booze, whimsical drinking, or sudden and unexpected cravings. The question remains, can we have too much of a good thing a.k.a. is a frictionless experience really that good for us?
I love everything about this idea. Cooked up by Ai Wei Wei, the notorious Chinese artist and Olafur Eliasson, the purveyor of unusual things, it's a global, interactive and fun thing that you should definitely play with here.
Described as "an interactive online global art project," the site lets you draw on the moon. Yup.
Discovered via Design Faves.
First, there was The Spring, which I wrote about here couple of months ago, and which recently shut down. Now, there is Mogl, and I really hope this one stays around a little bit longer since both startups share the same amazing idea of connecting dining out and doing good.
Responding to the sad statistics that 15 million Americans are food insecure, Mogl app lets consumers donate money directly to food banks every time they dine out in one of the restaurants participating in this program. Consumers can choose the amount of money they want to donate. The incentive is monetary and straightforward: 10% cash back of your bill.
This is great for group dining, where individuals will, no doubt, want to outdonate each other, and where 10% of the group bill is not negigable.
There aren't any restaurants taking part in this program in NYC, but I am very eager to try it out.
There are few product categories that are more neglected than pregnancy wear. As a consequence of pregnancy wear's limited life, women are reluctant to invest a lot of money in it. Consequently, the retail offerings go either very pricey niche or very unappealing mass. In other words, retailers opt in to either go luxury, attracting a limited number of customers, or the absolute mass, reducing the prices at the expense of quality.
At the same time, the black market for the pregancy wear is vast. Black market here refers not to illegal activities, but to new social models of economic exchange that evolved with digital technology. Women share, swap, or give away their pregnancy clothes either to be helpful or just to get rid of them. And where is black market - a.k.a. new socio-economic activity - there's a potential for innovation. An industry's black market is the true indicator of how rife the industry is for disruption.
And so it goes: two examples that come to mind are Borrow Your Bump and Rent Maternity Wear. Both are online marketplaces where women can browse, buy or borrow items from each other. Because the product selection is carefully curated, the quality and diversity of products is higher than what the industry offers. Due to the rental option, they are also more affordable. Borrow Your Bump goes a step ahead and sends personalized product selection to first-time users; from the convenience of their home, they can try and keep items they love and return the rest, and no cost.
The takeaway? Best and the most disruptive business models build upon on social and economic activity that customers are already doing, and help them do it in a better, faster and more efficient way. We should be exploring black markets more.
Cheerios partnered with the Family Dinner Project to create something pretty amazing called Family Breakfast Project. The project encourages families to start they day together, through a simple series of 7 topics/ideas for 7 days (e.g. Day 1 theme is "Laugh," Day 2 theme is "Connect," and so on) that will give families something to do and talk about while enjoying their breakfast. Conversation starters, advice and different themes should provide families with a fun morning routine. The Cheerios site, where families can find all of these, also displays Cheerios commercials, user-generated content, and incentive to pass the initiative on.
This is an amazing example of brand utility, social responsibility, and savvy marketing, all mixed in one. Done by always great Zeus Jones.
Rotting food, in supermarket shelves and in our own refrigerators, is a big problem. So big in fact, that its weight is 7 million tons.
To solve it or, at least minimize it, scientists created a microchip that when inserted into food packaging communicates the freshness of the food inside. As the shelf-life and expiration date nears, the package starts texting the owner, alerting them to consume the food before it goes bad.
Now, the question is, would we care? After all, if all we ever eat is nearly-deceased vegetables, then our diet becomes a race against rot. Do we want to shape our lifestyle around the dying carrots? "No, I can't go out tonight, my stack of beets is going to expire. I simply must eat them now." More environmentally & socially conscious among us will welcome this innovation, though. The rumor is that, Holland, always the innovator, is going to implement this technology pretty soon. Stay tuned.
Chinese Twitter, Sina Weibo, did something very smart: it integrated Alibaba's e-commerce capabilities into its service. Imagine Twitter where you could buy anything you wanted with a click, and you get the idea. "Weibo Payment" is that click, and it connects users Alibaba accounts (called Alipay) with their Weibo accounts. It's as if Twitter and PayPay banded up and allowed us to buy whatever we want in our Twitter streat. Why on earth Twitter hasn't already done this, beats me.
There are article pins, product pins, place pins, recipe pins and movie pins. And all of them contain information that is just what you are looking for. Retailers, hotels, publishers, CPG brands are somewhere rubbing their hands in delight. This is contextual advertising at its best, mixed with a heavy dollop of utility. The sexiest of them all are product pins, clearly, as they are the perfect outlet for relevant product information: price, availability, shopping and, of course, the opportunity to shop. And all of this without ever leaving the Pinterest universe. Make no mistake: retailers benefit plenty - once user decided to buy a product, the rest of the transaction is completed on the retailer website. The bottom of the funnel is the same - it's its top that has gotten more complex, and for the better.
In the domain of online shopping, there are some things that are thought to be off-limits. Like sunglasses. Like shoes. Like mattresses. Apparently, this perception all wrong, as Warby Parker, TOMS and now Tuft and Needle have demonstrated. The latter is the foam-mattress business that sells its much-loved products exclusively online, through their website and via Amazon, bypassing distributors and all the hustles that go with them.
What's the next industry to be disrupted? Hair-coloring, perhaps?
This is a great example of attribution theory. Facebook did A/B testing to determine in which scenario would users attribute slow speed of loading to Facebook vs. their iOS. What do you think?
Answer: in the first case, users blame Facebook. In the second, they blame iOS.
More great things are coming from crowdsourcing plus brands-and-startups-partner-together department. In the latest installation of this inter-species collaboration, Walgreens banded up with TaskRabbit to quickly and efficiently deliver cold and flu medicine to those who pressingly need it.
The program goes on during what's known as the high flu season, lasting from January 7th to February 18th (thanks Gallup). Best thing yet is that the program is promoted and conducted through existing Walgreens app, which a lot of its customers already have. This is a great example of "build onto existing infrastructure" approach. Those who opt in to get their meds delivered, can select their delivery time and then just wait for someone to bring in the goodies.
Doing something good for your customers is brand creativity at its best.
Parcel is the new online service that *finally* solves the problem of all of us who order inordinate amount of things online. Some of us don't want their co-workers to know about their shopping addiction, and some of us just don't have a doorman to sign for everything that comes through the door. So we are left with chasing our coveted future possessions between delivery slips, always delightful USPS, and "did my neighboor took my parcel or did she not" dilemma.
There are certainly ways that Fedex or UPS could have think of this. But they didn't, simply because they are focused on their business innovation more than they are focused on their consumer innovation. Make no mistake: in ideal scenario, consumer innovation is business innovation, which means that one can build a business around consumer insight. Parcel is a proof of this.
Now, the only thing I have to wait for is for them to start delivering to Brooklyn ...
Cars-as-media has been going on for some time. More than any other connected device, connected cars make sense in a way that was not imaginable 10 years ago. A roadblock? A traffic jam ahead? Fastest route to somewhere? Check, check and check.
Truth to be told, the pressure's been building up for car companies to modernize their dashboards. Today's drivers, used to touch-based, interactive interfaces get in the car only to discover an old-fashioned tech dashboard staring back at them. Not a turn-on for driving.
To bring cars into 21st century, Google set its sights on integrating Android OS into vehicles of car manufacturers like Audi, Honda and Hyundai. Aside of making the dashboards look better, this integration would allow the apps and music on Android smartphones to also work more smoothly. Another benefit are traffic overlays over Google maps, which inform commuters about road issues and traffic jams ahead as well as car diagnostic info, sent directly to car mechanics when needed. People are already using their phones in their cars, so why not make it actually better and safer for them?
Talk about creating a closed information system. No wonder Apple's in the race, too (it has deals with BMW, GM and Honda).
How do we calculate the value of a product or service we seek to purchase? Most of us do some sort of price comparisons, gain management analysis or choice framing based product quality, design and other factors. Some of us to this add their brand loyalty. Yet some of us go even further and add sustainability and social responsibility info to their mental calculus.
For this last (and growing) group, JUST provides exactly this information. This organization details six criteria evaluating things like a company's safety, diversity, or worker benefit, with subcriteria like gender equality and animal wellfare.
This is interesting, and not only because it rewards companies with sustainable business practices.
JUST has the potential to deeply upset the established economic model where monetary price is, traditionally, the sole indicator of a good's value. The consequences are huge. Prices of various goods correlate; prices are set as the outcome of a company's various costs (production, operations, distribution, overhead) and profit projections; and prices are an indicator of brand equity and value.
Once all of this becomes not the ultimate, but just one of the ways for companies to set the value of a product, what happens then?
Consumers are already getting there: they actively seek out the corporate business practices information and demand transparency. This means that the ways they make decisions are radically different than in the past, bounded rationality notwithstanding. It also means that economic factors of pricing are going to become critically intertwined with the social responsibility ones. Social values are going to become the core of the price, forcing all other pricing factors to adjust. Our economy may as well become social.
Or at least forced to be more responsible.
Coming on the heels of ColaLife idea, Avon Ladies are working their high heeled legs to close the last-mile gap to the remote African villages. Well, not exactly the Avon ladies, but some other men and women who use the Avon's flexible distribution model to sell and deliver necessities to those in need. The flexible distribution model idea comes from The Paradigm Project, who currently employs 25 salespeople walking the grounds in Africa. Once they prove the model is viable, hopefully more brands will join.
Chinese rarely drink coffee.
This fact makes it strange to think that Starbucks wants to make China its second-largest market. There are, of course, secondary goodies and localized products that can attract customers, but without a strong caffeine addition, Starbucks value proposition becomes shaky, at best.
This is why Starbucks' primary value prop in China isn't coffee. It is space.
Some 25 years or so ago, Starbucks helped invent the concept of the "third space" - a place that's not a home and it's not work either, but it's in between, offering ability to do work within comforts alike those at home. Now this brand is brining the same premise to crowded Chinese metropoles.
Starbucks is keeping the steady flow of traffic to its bars with the promise of a well-lit, comfortable, pleasant-yet-not-intimidating space where one can hang out with friends, do some work, read a book or have a meeting. The latter is increasingly common among Chinese fast-growing class of business people, who prefer meeting in Starbucks instead of their cramped offices.
A comfortable setting can be a powerful habit-forming situation. While the primary reason to visit Starbucks for Chinese right now is not coffee, the entire setting of Starbucks may nudge them into coffee-drinking direction. Something like: meeting a need you didn't know you had.
ColaLife is amazing idea that didn't come from Coke. It's result of a very smart hacking of Coke's gigantic distribution system. Simon Berry, an aid worker in Zambia, noticed that availability of Coca-Cola in very remote areas is greater than that medicines that can save life. This sparked an idea: why not use Coke's distribution system to deliver life-saving anti-dirrhoea kits? Coke's incredibly vast network of local distributors penetrates nearly every corner of Earth, and getting medicines to remote areas can be very costly and often frustratingly slow and irregular business.
The real insight, however, was not utilizing Coke's existing distribution system. It was creating a way to transport the medicine within it, as seamlessly as possible. The solution came in the form of an AidPod container that can be perfectly wedged between Coca-Cola bottles, so it can be distributed at no additional cost.
Great example of creativity under constraints.
Actually, I probably don't, knowing how much pain it is to put an IKEA furniture together. Called "IKEA for bikes,"this two-wheeler gets to your door in a box and it's up to your engineering skills to put it together.
Truth to be told, there's nothing ordinary about this bike, in addition to its non-traditional distribution model. It's made of beeck plywood and its parts are made of cylinders, instead of welding. Once you accept the fact that you are about to drive the wooden bike, you can order it online and it arrives flat-packed with the assemly instructions. Orders begun in Europe on December 1st and about to being in January for the rest of the world. The bike price is $1,092.
You can check out the whole thing here.
The ultimate goal of a good user experience design is to create as seamless and as frictionless way to fulfill a task as possible. The less pain points there are, and the less roadblocks, the better. The ideal scenario is when an action or a behavior can be served with a single click or a swipe.
But what happens when a seamless, simple and easy design starts to enable too much of a behavior? In other words, what if some friction is good?
Think food. Seamless, true to its name, designed such an easy and simple food ordering system that in fact end up ordering more (orders become 15% more complex and 6% higher in calories), and paying more for it (21% more, to be exact). The study where those numbers came from links the "freedom to order" to anonymity that online ordering offers.
Undoubtledly, social factors play a role. But the more interesting problem here may be one of design. What if experience design made it harder for us, and not easier, to fulfull our food cravings, unhealthy diet choices and instant gratification?
The challenge here clearly is that a service that is less seamless is going to lose in the competition against those that fulfill our needs better, faster and easier. Simply put, consumers won't use it. Solving this problem ironically requiers a seamless design of friction (or obstacles) into behavior that, if facilitated, is detrimental to our health.
That's a pretty new tought. I'd love to see Seamless that fosters healthy choices, doesn't respond to our food cravings, offers postponed gratification and still stays in business. It's a pretty neat design problem.
This is a pretty great example of solving an unserved need or. Best design solutions recognize pain points in people's experience journeys and offer solutions in the form of their products or services precisely at those moments.
Starbucks, already present at every urban corner (just to make sure to be there should a need arises) now ventured into transportation department. In Switzerland, Starbucks repurposed a double-decker car of a train servicing Geneva Airport. The challenge was not just to put a Starbucks counter in the train and call it a day; Starbucks in fact designed the entire car, together with the sound-proof floors, comfy seats, and a wooden bar.It's a pretty great idea for commuters in need for coffee, which is practically everyone on the train.
Hope Acela is next.
Last night, Uber charged 8 times its regular price for its car service. Controversy ensued.
The popular argument was that a brand, especially an emerging, sharing economy-based brand, could sour its customer base by a move that can easily be viewed as predatory. After all, sharing economy emerged to fill in a void created by the tight grip that predatory corporations hold on supply, which allows them to charge premium for access. Last night, some may say, Uber uncannily looked like a corporation it was created to overturn.
And yet. Think again. Last night, lovely snow storm gave way to slushy, wet streets filled with brawling Santas (yes, NYC had a priviledge to host yet another SantaCon). If you were an Uber driver, you were faced with the following situation: 1) damage your car by driving in snow/slush or 2) damage it by a puking Santa. Unsurprisingly, most Uber drivers hung their car keys and decided to stay at home.
Now Uber was in a tricky situation. How to provide supply that matches Saturday night demand? It found the solution in creating an incentive to drivers to go out. "Every man has his price," the saying goes, and Uber discovered that that price is exactly 8 times the usual. Sure enough, there were more Uber cars on the roads, the reward overrun the risk, and Santas got home safely.
The question here isn't one of corporate behavior, but of human psychology. And Uber got it right.
The image above is from the now notorious Santacon Brawl Video.
Excerpt from the new book on Jony Ive: “When we are at these early stages in design, when we’re trying to establish some of the primary goals—often we’ll talk about the story for the product—we’re talking about perception. We’re talking about how you feel about the product, not in a physical sense, but in a perceptual sense.”