University of Toronto has two interesting institutes: Martin Prosperity Institute and Best Institute. The former is an academic place for the global-scale prosperity and inequality. Its research papers discuss the creative classes and cities (Richard Florida), the integrative thinking and strategies (Roger Martin), and the global crowdsourcing for problem solving (Don Tapscott). The latter is a relatively practical space where the start-up companies focusing on health-care products and services run their offices.
While visiting them, I found there are two different ways to play with words. At the Martin Prosperity Institute, a visual art piece hangs on the wall saying PROSPERITY. At the Best Institute, a verbal notice posts on the door saying “Come to the Dark Side. We have cookies.” I find these two pieces are very creative but in different ways: the former changes the visual aspect of the word, whereas the latter changes the verbal (meaning) aspect of the word.
Crate and Barrel, one of my favorite stores following Pottery Barn and Williams and Sonoma, has a section called “Everything You Never Knew You Needed.” It introduces highly specialized kitchen utensils including jar spatula, melon baller, strawberry huller, avocado slicer, dual citrus squeezer, egg timer, and herb scissors.
At first, they look useless for many who do not cook often. Even if they do so, they can slice avocados and trim herbs using existing kitchen utensils. However, it is true that people often fell in love with a product only after they experience it. For example, I love the salad spinner by OXO, Panini grill by Breville, and wine decanter by Spiegelau. Although I am able to dry vegetables, grill sandwiches, and oxygenate wines without using these products, they make my cooking experience enjoyable. Indeed, I believe most smart kitchen products are the nice marriage of careful observation of people’s behavior in the kitchen with just a bit of technological flavor. If I should slice many avocados and trim a lot of herbs all the time, I may need a slicer and a pair of scissors designed exclusively for them to enjoy my cooking experience.
This leads us to a series of critical questions about new product development. Should designers and marketers ignore the novices’ voices (e.g., I am fine with an existing slicer) but listen to the experts’ voices more carefully (e.g., I need a better slicer for avocados)? If so, how do designers and marketers confirm that there will be a market for highly specialized expert products (e.g., avocado slicer)? Alternatively, how should designers and marketers “educate” novices when launching highly specialized products so that the newly developed products are appealing to novices ?
Mobile World Congress (MWC) takes place February 24-27, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. Some companies put huge design flavor into their booths to successfully attract attention from visitors and press (see pictures and articles on the Arts Technica by Ron Amadeo). Here are a few more pictures sent from one attendee. They are Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, SK Telecom and its TV services, Sony and its gadgets, and Huawei (from the top left corner).
Choosing the right color and material is difficult for car buyers. Tesla store in Toronto helps visitors make decisions by allowing them to see/touch/smell a few samples. In the store, two working vehicles stand in the middle and they are surrounded by a wide variety of small components of the vehicle such as color samples or interior/exterior samples. I found many visitors look at them, tap them, and smel them.
I recently visited a MicroSoft Store in a shopping mall in Toronto. My first impression was that it looks highly similar to the Apple Store. For instance, the MS Store places a simple logo outside, displays a wide variety of working devices on the tables, and has many assistants wearing blue (!) T-shirts. However, many visitors in the MS Store spent their time on playing gesture-recognition X-BOX video games. Only few paid attention to the physical devices and virtually none of them had any conversation with the MS assistants.
Different from the MS Store, the Apple Store in the same shopping mall had more visitors who played with the working device on the tables or who had a conversation with the assistants. At the surface level, the visitors and the assistants in the MS store “played together” whereas, in the Apple store, they “communicated each other.” However, more importantly, the MS Store needs something unique rather than copying its competitor. Otherwise, it might follow what Sony showed after it opened Sony Stores.
David Kelley, the president of the IDEO, visited Toronto and talked with Roger Martin, the former dean of Rotman School of Management, under the title of unleashing the creative potential within us all.
He started his speech saying that his life long question is how to innovate routinely. He suggests we need three things: creative confidence, guided mastery, and design thinking. First, creative confidence (or self efficacy proposed by Bandura) helps us to go beyond inside-the-box thinking. Next, guided mastery (or a series of small successes) is needed for generated wild ideas not to lose their flames. Finally, design thinking (or mindful or open-mind attitude) enables us to try something new, in particular when we work with others.
He also emphasized the importance of empathic observation by presenting a few real projects that his employees/students conducted. For example, his team investigated how to help K-12 students in California eat more healthy food. The most important finding was that lunch is not just about food but more like a social activity for kids. Therefore, his team proposed games so that kids play together, come back to the table and sit down together, and then eat vegetables together. This activity led kids to eat more vegetables.
Although the same moving walkways are installed in the airports in Japan and Canada, the two countries place them differently probably because of the different cultural norms: Japanese walk on the left side while Canadians walk on the right side.
- It is weekly updated 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.
- Jaewoo teaches and writes about Design Marketing and New Product Development through the lens of Psychology and Behavioral Economics.