Sterilizer in beauty stores

Must buy items in Korea are skin care products. As the Korean entertainment programs including TV programs, movies, and music videos became highly popular in Asia, the beauty products made in Korean enjoy its strong brand power. Many cosmetic stores in Seoul are crowded by foreign visitors. I have noticed in the stores that many foreign…

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Mobile messaging apps in Asia

Short / Instant / Mobile messaging apps compete fiercely. It has about 5 year history and has a numerous players (e.g., WhatsApp, Line, Wechat, QQ, and Kakao Talk, Snpachat, Telegram, and Viber, to name a few). Some focus on simple communication and others provide interesting features including stickers and animated figures. I visited YongPyong ski…

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Verbal instructions do not work

People often use verbal signs to give instructions to others. The store owner posts a sign on the window saying, “This is a window, please use the door.” Government officers paint “Look Right” at the pedestrian crossing. However, I have observed numerous store visitors and pedestrians mistakenly push or slide the window and look left…

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Break: take a rest vs. get inspired

We need breaks from our everyday work. Although they have a single objective, breaks have at least two different forms. For instance, some of my friends want to take a rest without having interactions with others. They turn off mobile phones, go to an all-inclusive hotel, and then spend time on doing nothing but reading…

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Train experience: Mechanical vs. Electronic

I recently traveled on trains in UK (London – Edinburgh) and in Korea (Seoul – Busan) and found two interesting differences. First, I used a physical train ticket in UK and used an electronic ticket in Korea. In UK, I collected a paper ticket at the station and then physically showed it to the conductor…

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Advantage of popular first name

First name (or given name) is the name that identifies a specific person. It differentiates a person from other members of a group, such as a family or clan, with whom that person shares a common last name (or family name). While last name is normally inherited, first name is “free to choose” and thus can…

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Make public communication points useful

Nowadays, people rarely use pay phones or mailboxes run by government. Instead, they prefer to use private services when communicating with others; they use mobile phones or gmails. As people find the contemporary public services slow and inconvenient, they avoid public communication points. Ironically, most of the public communication points such as pay phone booths and mail boxes are…

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Pay toilet, spoiled customer, and mental accounting

I have seen pay toilets at train stations or tourist spots in London. Since paying money to use public toilet was new to me, I simply thought making profits by victimising tourists is unethical. However, one of my friends who has been living in London for a few years said money should be collected to maintain toilet clean.…

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Engineering smells of childhood memories

I visited an interesting exhibition. It was held by the Naeum, a project group of eight people who study fragrance for empathy. Differently from others interested in developing fancy and welcoming odors, they try to create a wide variety of unique smells and then enjoy them with others. In this exhibition, they introduced a series…

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Hands-on experience of 3D printing

Probably, I am one of few marketing people in the world who buy and use a 3D printer. I paid about $1000 and bought a printer called Rappy 32 from Stellamove two months ago and have been printing miniature buildings, animals, and mobile phone cases for fun. I want to share what I have learned about…

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OCT-Loft, Chinese design hub in Shenzhen

Shenzhen is known for manufacturing in China. However, it has a cool spot called OCT-Loft where designers and creative people with different backgrounds gather, chill out, and share their ideas. According to the Protocity.com, Located in the Nanshan District, OCT-Loft is a project of significant scope and scale. Largely designed by Shenzhen-based architecture firm Urbanus,…

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No skinny jeans, no skinny cans

Skinny means very thin or unusually slender. Although it is a highly popular word, marketers avoid it but label their “sassier” products differently because the word, skinny, reinforces the stereotypes of women and body images. Interestingly, some items go for skinnier whereas others do not.   Fashion items want to be skinnier. According to J. Crew Sells “Toothpick” Jeans, Because Skinny Jeans Just Weren’t Body-Negative…

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Traditional building with a modern twist in Korea

Toronto has many traditional buildings with a modern twist. The house previously used for Rotman Designworks studio was a good example. From the outside, it was a plain three-story house. However, it had interesting modern flavors inside: boards were installed on the white walls, desks and chairs ran on wheels, and newly installed toilette were…

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Paper product by Minimalist designer

People have their own favorite designers. My favorite “product” designer is Naoto Fukasawa. He is well known for the designer of the fan-shaped CD player by Muji. I love his minimalist design so much that I flew for his Tokyo studio, Plus Minus Zero, to consider buying a humidifier for the stimulus of my experimental…

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Toy made by wine corks

Although many people simply throw wine corks out, some reuse them creatively; they make art pieces, cork wreaths, bulletin board and gardening tools with used wine corks. For me, I bought a series of “corkers” to change them into toys. Simple and fun. 🙂

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Shopping experience at fashion store

Since fashion stores offer a wide range of clothing, they are often full of dust. I find many visitors leave stores because their eyes turn red. I recently found a fashion store with low dust level. Differently from other stores, it hung the whole clothing over the ground and maintained the floor clean. It was…

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Rooftop presentation of Seoul history

I attended an interesting event at the Art center Nabi in Seoul. At this event, Robert Fouser, Associate Professor of Korean Language Education at Seoul National University, introduced the history of Seoul with a series of his own black and white photos of Seoul. His Korean-speaking presentation impressed me deeply; his photos remind me of my…

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Apple logo-shaped fried rice

I ordered a fried rice after having BBQ at a local restaurant in Korea. Interestingly, She first shaped the fried rice like an apple and then placed a small fried cake on top to make it look like the Apple logo. (What if I am a fan of MicroSoft? :)) Strong brands such as Harley-Davidson and Nike…

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Traffic light labels on wine

People often do things while drunk that they regret when they sober up. Opening expensive wines is one of them. In order to solve this problem and, more academically speaking, to overcome the hot-cold empathy gap (proposed by George Loewenstein), I adopted traffic light system. I place red sticky notes on the definitely expensive wines…

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Container shipping company’s sponsorship for art project

Hanjin Shipping is now ranked as the 8th biggest world-wide shipping company following Maersk, MSC, and CMA-CGM. I have met this name at a museum, MMCA (national Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea). In the middle of the museum stood an eye-popping artwork sponsored by Hanjin Shipping. Although it may take ages for a…

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Studying materials for design

Materials matter. Designers use biological materials to solve trade-off problems (e.g., strong and light-weighted chair). Consumers buy transparent products. When students join the Master of Product Design and Development program in the Segal Design Institute, Northwestern University, they should take Materials Selection course in the beginning before learning about accounting, negotiation, strategy, decision making, and…

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DDP, a controversial architecture

DDP (Dongdaemun Design Park plaza), designed by Zaha Hadid, is an extremely controversial architecture in Seoul, Korea. Some argue that it is neither functional inside nor goes well with neighbors; they view it as a dead space next to a naturally dynamic communities. Others, however, argue that this building cannot be judged by the contemporary…

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Design library at Seoul

Hyundai Card is an usual financial company. It has introduced interesting design projects for over ten years. For instance, it started its own bottled water business (it water), introduced daily kitchen products called (oyster), proposed a new taxi service called (my taxi), and collaborates with Pantech for new mobile phones. Most notably, it runs a…

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Better User Experience of TV

SK Telecom/Broadband introduced a setup box called B Box. It was co-developed by a design consulting agency, Plus-ex, and recently received a red-dot design award. It not only looks way different from other ugly, bulky setup boxes, but it also provides several interesting services with TV viewers through immensely improved User Interface (UI). For instance, viewers…

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Empathy support system

Empathy matters in design and new  product development (e.g., Dev Patnaik’s Wired to Care). In order to deeply dive into target customers’ thoughts and feelings, marketers have used some combination of observation and interview (i.e., market-oriented ethnography in Rosenthal and Capper 2006) and even pictures (e.g., Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique). Academic researchers in the marketing area…

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PhD thesis: paper vs. book

Marketing PhD candidates write papers. However, some design PhD candidates publish books. I have received book-format theses from two people who obtained their design PhDs from European universities. I also know of some other design PhD candidate in US  who are presently writing books for their PhD degrees. Why do marketers and designers require different…

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Please help us recycle easily

We want to voluntarily participate in recycling but do so only when it is easy. Recently, I met two bin boxes next to each other at a university in Seoul. Unfortunately, their colors and names made me confused: the left one had a blue cover and a green panel saying “recycled” and the right one had…

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Going Outside the Frame

There is an OOH (Out-Of-Home) advertising at one subway in Toronto. Benylin is a medicine available at the Shoppers Drug mart. Advertisers intentionally drew its figure outside the frame to communicate that the pill is strong. Although this is less shocking than VolksWagen in the ski resort or AIA in Bangkok, going outside the frame will successfully attract attention by…

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Behavior Change in University Education

Historically, a professor distributed its course outline with a textbook (e.g., Principles of Marketing) and students bought it at a convenient place (e.g., book store in the campus). This pattern is now dramatically changing. First, students change their book purchasing behavior. The book store in the campus are now facing the price war with online…

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Two Different Ways to Play with Words

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…

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