About an year ago, I met two artists who opened StudioBlank and carved wood like a bowling pin. They produced a single product: wood massager called Tapi. We discussed how to increase sales and I suggested them to vary its size in order to target different segments. For example, sales representatives might be interested in small-sized Tapi because they want to give something special to their clients.
Recently, I visited StudioBlank’s newly opened shop and found that the two artists did not simply change the size of their product but developed the product line. Now, they make and sell from typical massagers to aroma diffusers, wooden pillows, and special (acupressure) massagers.
Marketers wonder how to develop/extend the product line without sacrificing the consistency among the products. They tend to focus on visual cues such as brands, logos, or colors. However, product designers can use material, the essence of the product, as a vehicle to develop a successful product line.
When we buy candles, we generally consider how they look or how they smell. Therefore, most candle makers carve their candles artistically or add scents to the candle waxes (e.g., Red Roses of Jo Malone). However, some candle makers pay attention to a different aspect of candle: wick.
A candle wick is usually a braided cotton that holds the flame of a candle. Wicks can be made of material other than string or cord, such as wood, although they are rare (Wikipedia). Recently, I met a candle maker who was selling wood wick candles. She told me her candles make a relaxing SOUND of burning wood. Since I was fascinated by the sound, I bought her candle without considering how it looked or how it smelled.
Designers and marketers are always searching for latent needs, the needs that consumers do not express verbally. Since a wide variety of shapes and scents are existing in the candle market, candle designers and marketers consider innovating their candles by offering different types of burning sounds.
Wikipedia says, “The Made in China label is one of the most recognizable labels in the world today due to China’s rapidly developing large manufacturing industry, China is currently the largest exporter in the world and the Made in China label can be seen on a wide range of goods from clothing to electronics. U.S. law requires the country of origin of a product to be clearly displayed on the product, or on the product’s container if it is enclosed, resulting in many corporations such as Apple labeling their products with “Designed by Apple in California Assembled in China.”
Microsoft once labeled their Zune products with “Hello from Seattle Assembled in China.”
Recently, Plus-X, a design studio has labeled its smartphone cases smartly. This Seoul-based design studio recently finished a brand experience consulting project for YG entertainment. Inspired by PSY’s hit song, Gangnam Style, its sister company, Lab C, labels the smartphone cases with “Designed by Lab C in Gangnam Material by Italy.” This label is clearly eyecatching and works well since Gangnam is where people are trendy, hip and exude a certain supposed class (though it would have been more noticeable if it says “Stylized in Gangnam” instead).
Soren Petersen have also written what design can learn from Gangnam style. Thank you, PSY. You make designers more creative!
People like imported goods. Some like them so much that they even pick up the old license plates and place them outside their buildings for an aesthetic reason. (Note that this tiny run-down building is located in the center of Seoul and must have nothing to do with Nebraska or Iowa)
Imported goods are welcomed in particular when exporting countries are highly qualified. This, so called, COO (Country Of Origin) effect is well established for Germany, France and Japan. Recently, I found that Canada Goose is also enjoying the same effect. It sells cold weather apparels designed for extreme cold weather conditions. According to my students, Canada Goose is popular because it is made in Canada not in US, Russia or China. They particularly love its huge label saying “Canada Goose Arctic Program.”
Differently from Canada Goose, M0851, another successful Canadian fashion brand says nothing about where it is made. Although it started a business in Montreal and is made in Canada, simply looking at it does not help people figure out where it comes from.
One Canadian clothing brand speaks its born place very loudly, while the other keeps silent about where it was born. Interestingly, both run business well.
I visited a special exhibition at the Seoul Museum of History and met an old day of Korean advertisement.
“Title: Seoul Nostalgia: A Retrospective Photographic Exhibition of Kim Hanyong
Having started as a news photographer in 1947 at ‘Gukje Bodo’ (International Report), Kim Han-yong is a renowned photographer who has devoted himself solely to photography throughout his life. His professional traces crossing genres such as news, art and advertisement can be translated into the records of Korea’s contemporary history. This exhibition consists broadly of the two themes: ‘Memories of City’ and ‘Portraits of the beauty’. ‘Memories of City’ displays the dynamic changes that Seoul and the people living in it have gone through since the 1950’s. ‘Portraits of the beauty’ presents some 70 advertising posters created by Kim, commonly referred to as an ‘advertising photography magnate’. He says that he has never forgotten photography for a moment in his life of 90 years. Thanks to this passionate artist, we can discover our own portraits of the days when we dreamed with hope despite difficult circumstances.”
I had an interesting observation when I compared between the Coca-cola ad and Hyundai-Ford ad in the 1970s. About 40 years ago, Coca-cola was advertised WITH pencil-drawing consumers while the Hyundai-Ford car was advertised WITHOUT drivers. Nowadays, this trend becomes opposite: Coca-cola is now showing Coke (or bear) only whereas Hyundai is now demonstrating how drivers use the car.
My friend teaches Product Design. He uses coffee maker in his course. Students disassemble and assemble a coffee maker and then design a new one.
A few days ago, I was invited to see the designs that his students submitted to his course. After discussing with him which ones are well designed and why, I made two interesting observations.
First, only few coffee maker designs have cords. He and I reached a consensus that most students failed to take into account how their newly designed coffee makers work or look like in reality. Only few thought these issues deeply and put some flavor of reality. Interestingly, we reached another consensus that the coffee makers with the cords are generally better designed than those without cords.
Next, we chose the identical coffee maker as well designed for different reasons. I chose it because its look and feel is appealing whereas he chose it because it may work well compared to others. Although I always assume that aesthetics and usefulness are in a trade-off situation, they are not necessarily traded off in the reality.
At the Seoul Motor Show, I found an interesting vehicle operated by electricity. It attracts attention not because of its strong performance but because of its weak name and design. It is called Yebbujana, meaning “Beautiful, isn’t it?”. Further, it has a curvy body with four extremely small headlamps. In general, having an inviting name and approachable design is a good approach. Managers and designers might want to introduce their rapidly new car in an unassertive way. However, this car sounds and looks too timid for me to drive on the road.
“Timid, isn’t it?”
Design Marketing Lab is run by Jaewoo Joo, assistant professor of marketing, college of business administration, Kookmin University. He holds his Ph.D. in Marketing from Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and M.B.A. and B.A. from Seoul National University.
Jaewoo writes about design and marketing through the lens of the psychology of judgment and decision making. He has been invited to attend the Interdisciplinary Design Workshops and has served as a panelist for the Business Week's World's Best Design Schools.
Jaewoo is reached by email@example.com.