Tag Archives: Learning

People need vocabulary to develop taste

Barry Schwartz argues in his book, the Paradox of Choice, that increasing choices does not make us happy. Instead, reducing choices boosts sales and giving more options lowers choices.

Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically. —quoted from Ch.5, The Paradox of Choice, 2004

Then, does giving more choices enhance the enjoyment choosers experience? It may not be, either. I had a similar experience at the cheese section of the Annam Gourmet at Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. It provided a wide variety of cheeses. Therefore, spent a significant amount of time in carefully comparing multiple cheeses and eventually choosing one. When I tasted the selected cheese, unfortunately, I was confused which one to choose because I spent too much time on thinking about several cheeses.

Then, what could marketers do to help people enjoy their experience? One suggestion is that when customers experience the option, they are reminded which one was chosen. For instance, if the option name is shown, customers will be able to keep focused on it.

Nekkid Wings is a chicken wing restaurant in Seoul, Korea. Customers select one out of twelve flavors for a bucket of five wings. Some flavors are safe (e.g., classic buffalo) and others are risky (e.g., parmesan garlic). Most customers order multiple buckets and try safe and risky flavors together. The flavor names printed on the paper help customers focus on which flavor they are testing.

West, P. M., Brown, C. L., & Hoch, S. J. (1996). Consumption Vocabulary and Preference Formation. Journal of Consumer Research, 23(2), 120–135.

Consumers’ understanding of their own preferences can be aided by a “consumption vocabulary”—a taxonomy or framework that facilitates identifying the relation between a product’s features and one’s evaluation of the product. In the absence of such a vocabulary, consumers’ understanding of their own preferences will require more extensive experience and may never fully develop. The effect of such a vocabulary is tested in two experiments in which subjects provided with a vocabulary (1) exhibit better-defined and more consistent preferences than control subjects, (2) show improved cue discovery, and (3) show learning (i.e., increases in consistency over time). All results hold regardless of the functional form of the model used to assess subjects’ preference formation.

Foreigners form impressions instantly about countries

In Berlin, Germany, I met a vending machine in a steel cage. Covering the machine with a cage surprised me because it was inside one of downtown subway stations. My friend told me the machine could be damaged at night by drunken people. I formed an impression that Germany was unsafe; juvenile vandalism, an action involving deliberate destruction of or damage to public or private property, was popular in this country.

 

 

A few days later, I met a public book shelf in another city. At a market in Frankfurt, people freely opened the window and picked up as many books to read as they wanted. Then, I corrected my impression and thought Germany is safe.

 

 

I find myself using trivial cues to quickly form an impression about a city or a country. A steel cage led me to think Germany was dangerous for tourists. However, as Brunswik suggested in his Les Model research, the first impression fails to reflect the truth. Soon after, leaning occurs. A book shelf changed my viewpoint about Germany; this country is safe for travel. I expect same things happen to foreigners. When Europeans come to an Asian country, they probably use a trivial cue to form an impression and use other cues to correct it. Learning should occur to understand different cities, countries, and culture correctly.

 

Brunswik, E. (1955). Representative design and probabilistic theory in a functional psychology. Psychological Review, 62(3), 193-217.

This is the core or basic paper in a symposium on the probability approach in psychology. The paper expands on earlier contentions of this author that the environment to which an organism must adjust is semi erratic and that therefore all functional psychology is inherently probabilistic, demanding a representative research design of its own, and leading to a special type of high-complexity, descriptive theory. “The expansions beyond the earlier publications… concern mainly the use of a behavioral example… ; the brief consideration of such semi representative policies as ‘canvassing’; certain comparisons with factorial design and the analysis of variance, as well as with non-functionalistic uses of probability in psychology; and a discussion of actual and potential applications to the clinical-social area and to related domains.”

 

 

 

Positioning map helps consumers make decisions

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a hotel in Alberta, Canada. Surrounded by mountain peaks and an emerald lake in the Banff National Park, this hotel has a pub for the outdoor enthusiasts coming from all over the world. At the pub, the menu was carefully designed for foreigners by mapping local drinks in two dimensions: how bitter (vs. sweet) and mild (vs. full flavor) beers are and how sweet (vs. sour) and mild (strong) cocktails.

 

 

Visual mapping of existing products in two dimensions has been widely used among marketers who either modify existing products or introduce new products. Marketers rely on, so called, positioning map or perceptual map because map illustrates the customer perception of a company’s products and brands relative to their competition.

 

 

However, as the menu suggests, positioning map could benefit customers as well when provided with unfamiliar products. As persona helps designers communicate with users, map could help novice customers make informed decisions. In other words, positioning map aids consumers’ understanding of their own preferences, like consumption vocabulary.

 

West, P. M., Brown, C. L., & Hoch, S. J. (1996). Consumption Vocabulary and Preference Formation. Journal of Consumer Research, 23(2), 120–135.

Consumers’ understanding of their own preferences can be aided by a “consumption vocabulary”-a taxonomy or framework that facilitates identifying the relation between a product’s features and one’s evaluation of the product. In the absence of such a vocabulary, consumers’ understanding of their own preferences will require more extensive experience and may never fully develop. The effect of such a vocabulary is tested in two experiments in which subjects provided with a vocabulary (1) exhibit better-defined and more consistent preferences than control subjects, (2) show improved cue discovery, and (3) show learning (i.e., increases in consistency over time). All results hold regardless of the functional form of the model used to assess subjects’ preference formation.

 

 

Glass shaped like milk carton

Most cocktail glasses are designed to hold the unique aroma of the cocktail to maximize its taste. However, some glasses play different roles. While I visited Singapore, my friend recommended me to visit Loof, a rooftop bar. It is located across the famous Raffels Hotel, a colonial-style super luxury hotel in the downtown. According to the website, this bar is

Awarded as Singapore’s best rooftop bar, Loof serves up quality whimsy, fresh nostalgia and unbridled playfulness in an urban garden atop Odeon Towers in downtown CBD. Enjoy carefully crafted Southeast Asian inspired cocktails with bar snacks that have a local twist. Then take a trip down memory lane and purchase little gems of locally-curated nostalgia at The Mama Shop. Bask in the cool shade of Loof’s urban garden and take in the best view of Raffles Hotel. Soak up infectious beats from resident DJs and themed party nights.

 

 

I wanted to drink energy booster since I spent a hot and humid daytime outside. I ordered “Milo Cocktail” because Milo is the chocolate malt beverage. Interestingly, this cocktail was served by a milk carton shaped glass. Although this glass did not capture the unique aroma the cocktail, it certainly improved my drinking experience because Milo is often served with milk and thus it tasted like Milo milky cocktail.

Stephen Hoch and Young-Won Ha proposed in their seminal marketing paper, Consumer Learning: Advertising and the Ambiguity of Product Experience (1986) that experience is a piece of evidence to test a hypothesis and the hypothesis is the advertising message. This cocktail glass led me to think that product design or package can be a hypothesis now. I thought milk was in there! 🙂

 

Behavior Change in University Education

DesignMarketingLab

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 booksellers. Although it keeps saying that “Out textbook prices are competitive with THE largest online bookseller,” many students pursue hassle-free-and-more-convenient shopping experience. They click a few buttons at home and then pick up the textbooks in their mailbox in a few days. They do not have to walk down to the book store.

Second and more importantly, students change their learning behavior. Previously, teachers needed widely accepted textbooks to transfer the established knowledge to students through lecture. However, contemporary teachers often develop new courses (e.g., Design Marketing) or lead typical courses in different ways (e.g., New Product Development). As such, they look for alternative formats to share insights with students; students could learn how to sketch from designers, they could identify business opportunities for 3D printers by discussion, they could make a pitch in front of real managers, or they could even register courses available at the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) systems such as Coursera or EdX. Now, learning and teaching is not limited with the form of lecture.

How can we learn and acquire skills?

20131014_Stellan Ohlsson @ SKKU_Skill acquisition (2)

Stellan Ohlsson, Professor in Psychology at University of Illinois at Chicago visited COGENG (Cognitive Engineering Lab) at SKKU and gave a speech on skill acquisition. He introduced his own work of learning from errors in which he argues that, in order to acquire or specializes in a certain skill (e.g., changing a lane to the left while driving), people should not only perform a certain task (e.g., turning the steering wheel to the left) but also detect and correct errors (e.g., turning the steering wheel to the left only when a car behind approaches). According to his constraint based approach, a skill is acquired only when a certain action with a negative outcome is unlearned (e.g., turning the steering wheel to the left slowly so that being hit by the car behind).

Certainly, there are many more ways to acquire skills. According to his review paper published in 2008, there are at least nine different ways of how people acquire skills.

1. Internalize direct instructions

2. Generalize from specific examples

3. Analogize to prior skill knowledge

4. Reason from prior declarative knowledge

5. Encode results of heuristic search

6. Strengthen positive outcomes

7. Unlearn actions with negative outcomes

8. Discover short cuts in execution histories

9. Accumulate statistical information