Is Iron Man banned in Denmark?

There is a Ninjago World at the Legoland in Denmark. In front of a flying dragon brick, I met an unfamiliar sign.



At first, I questioned why Lego hates Marvel so that pushing hand out like Iron Man was banned. Very soon, I realized it means “do not touch.” Later, I found the same sign at a construction site in downtown. It says “No entry for unauthorized people (Adgang forbudt for uvedkommende).”



Are these dynamic signs more effective than static ones? According to marketing research, people pay more attention to road signs when they are dynamic. We may need more “Iron Men” signs on the road.

Cian, L., Krishna, A., & Elder, R. S. (2015). A Sign of Things to Come: Behavioral Change through Dynamic Iconography. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(6), 1426–1446.

We propose that features of static visuals can lead to perceived movement (via dynamic imagery) and prepare the observer for action. We operationalize our research within the context of warning sign icons and show how subtle differences in iconography can affect human behavioral response. Across five studies incorporating multiple methodologies and technologies (click-data heat maps, driving simulations, surveys, reaction time, and eye tracking), we show that warning sign icons that evoke more (vs. less) perceived movement lead to a quicker propensity to act because they suggest greater risk to oneself or others and increase attentional vigilance. Icons used in our studies include children crossing signs near schools, wet floor signs in store settings, and shopping cart crossings near malls. Our findings highlight the importance of incorporating dynamic elements into icon design to promote imagery and thereby elicit desired and responsible consumer behavior.



How crowded is crowded?

Copenhagen differs from Seoul. In Copenhagen, I have ample opportunities to feel emptiness. When I go to a shopping mall (Kronen Vanlose) at 5PM on a weekday, it is literally vacant. Only few are spotted.



In Seoul, people constantly bump into people on street. By default, I feel crowdedness. When I go to Costco Wholesale at 8PM on any weekday, I should stand in line more than 10 minutes to meet cashiers.



Feeling emptiness or feeling crowdedness affects us. According to marketing research, social density shapes how we value products in a space. I find this research interesting and insightful, but it does not say much about how (objectively) crowded is (subjectively) crowded. While Koreans find a store or mall empty, Danes may find the same space crowded.



This article is about social space and material objects for sale within that space. We draw primarily on Goffman’s (1971) concepts of use space and possession territories to predict that as the social density of a given space increases, inferences of the subjective social class and income of people in that space fall. Eight studies confirm that this is indeed the case, with the result holding even for stick figures, thus controlling for typical visual indicators of social class such as clothing or jewelry. Furthermore, these social class inferences mediate a relationship between social density and product valuation, with individuals assessing both higher prices and a greater willingness to pay for products presented in less crowded contexts. This effect of inferred class on product valuation is explained by status-motivated individuals’ desire to associate with higher-status people. To the best of our knowledge, this research is the first to reveal the link between social density, status inferences, and object valuations. As such, it makes a novel contribution to what has come to be known in sociology as the topological turn: a renewed focus on social space.




People tip more when they disagree with a statement

Flam is a small village in Norway. Tourists who take the Norway in a Nutshell tours switch ferry boats here. A cozy restaurant called Bakkastova Cafe is located up on the hill.



This restaurant had a note at the cash register. It says, statistics say that women are tipping better than men. I added coins to the tip jar labeled men because I wanted to oppose this questionable argument. Others might tip if they support it.



This suggests that scientifically proven or well supported arguments may fail to motivate people to behave in a certain way. Rather, incomplete, controversial arguments trigger people’s willingness to speak out and may lead them to make an action. From the behavioral economics’ perspective, people’s avoidance for perfection seems to be a better nudge compared to either putting on some lipsticks to make something look like a human or painting foot prints on the street.



Food tastes different at rooftop bar

Vertigo offers a Bangkok’s ultimate rooftop dining experience. Sixty one floors above the city, people dine on premium steaks while feasting eyes on the skyline. When I visited this rooftop terrace, it was neither windy nor noisy, a perfect place to enjoy dish under the completely dark black sky.



However, food they served had very little flavor to me. It surprised me because Thai is one of my favorite cuisines. At first, I suspected that I over-enjoyed the street food that had been heavily seasoned with basil, garlic, ginger, and red chili. Alternatively, the level of spiciness and flavor might have been calibrated for cautious people.



However, I also thought food might taste different at high altitude as in-flight meals are dull and unpleasant. Katia Moskvitch wrote an article about why food tastes different on planes.

… as the plane gets higher, the air pressure drops while humidity levels in the cabin plummet. At about 30,000 feet, humidity is less than 12% – drier than most deserts. The combination of dryness and low pressure reduces the sensitivity of your taste buds to sweet and salty foods by around 30%…




Hibi lights like a match and burns like incense

Songshan Cultural and Creative Park is a creative hub in Taipei, Taiwan. It organizes art events, displays creative goods, and sells design items.

An incense attracted my attention. Although I like candles and incenses (e.g., red rose scents of Jo Malone and burning sound of Wood Wick), lighting them is a headache. I found a creative solution at the park. A Japanese incense called Hibi is a match itself and produces fragrance for about 10 minutes. According to the website, this 10 minutes aroma has an interesting behind story.

It all started with the encounter of two traditional industries: incense of Awaji Island and matches of Harima. These two traditional industries of Hyogo Prefecture first encountered each other in 2011. The collaboration started with the idea of an incense that could be lit like striking a match and was followed by 3 years of trial and error, an aromatic product with properties of strength and fragrance was developed, which did not break even when struck like a match… The name of products and packaging were developed to convey the sensibility of today’s Japan. All those things were ‘designed’ to create a new way of enjoying fragrance.

Women-only train car vs. all gender toilet

Women only subway cars are available in Shenzhen, China. They are also found in Cairo, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico city, Tokyo, Delhi, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur. However, priority carriages for women receive mixed reactions. According to the Wikipedia,


… Women cited safety from gropers, as well as not having to tolerate various smells. Men cited not having to worry about false accusations of being a groper. However, passengers complained about further overcrowding in mixed cars, and feared that women who ride mixed cars would be putting themselves at more risk than before (Japan)

… Women-only compartments were introduced on the Leipzig-to-Chemnitz regional train in 2016. Reactions from passengers were mixed. While some welcomed the measure as it made women feel safer, others thought that separating genders was “something from the past” and a “backward solution” (Germany)



To quarantine women from men aims to protect female passengers from male criminals. However, to do so *accentuates* gender differences. Claire Cohen wrote at Telegraph,

… Women-only carriages are an admission of defeat; they normalise sexual assault and tell the world that, rather than tackling sex offenders, the answer is to simply remove women from the equation – as if it is somehow our fault… It sounded ridiculous because it is, and it is exactly the same mentality that thinks hiding women away is a solution to sexual assault – not just plain sexism.


Nordic countries address gender issues differently. They attempt to *mitigate* gender differences. One example is all gender toilet widely available in Copenhagen, Denmark. Women and men equally wait in queue outside the toilets.





Self service kiosks are everywhere

The Frankfurt airport in Germany has Nespresso Coffee kiosks. They brew coffee.



The canteen at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark has a self-checkout system. It tells how much I should pay.



The Max, a fast food restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden, has a do-it-yourself kiosk stand. It receives orders.



A hotel in Oslo, Norway, has a self service kiosk reception. Doors open only when reservation information is entered.



Self service kiosks are everywhere in Europe. They benefit managers and customersManagers lower labor cost and customers avoid unnecessary relationships companies hoped for. However, self service kiosks have two weaknesses. Gretchen Gavett elaborated them in his article titled How Self-Service Kiosks Are Changing Customer Behavior.


… Technology lacks flexibility. When we’re interacting with a person and we’re having trouble understanding something, the person can adjust to us. If we’re having a misunderstanding, they can help clarify it. Technology really can’t do either of these things.

… A person has the ability to delight us or disappoint us. It’s really hard for a technology to ever delight, however, because it’s standardized and is built on a set of rules. But it is possible for technologies to disappoint us.


Neal’s Yard Dairy, a cheese store at the Borough market in London, UK, shows how and why people outperform kiosks. Customers should talk to the person over the counter to buy cheese in this store. While having conversation with another human being, customers learn what to buy and they are relieved or excited. Only people educate AND delight us at the same time. Kiosks cannot.





Man-made sky – Do you feel like you are in Italy?

Macau has many tourist spots including Senado Square and Ruins of St. Pauls. However, I enjoyed a shopping district at The Venetian Macau the most. As the name suggests, a man-made Italian city exists in the hotel.



When I first entered this district, something unnatural grabbed my attention; canal is narrow, floor is shiny, and lights are bright. These are clearly different from what I saw or expected in Venice.

However, about 30 minutes later, I saw myself paying attention to something good: cool air, blue sky, and sailor’s singing a song. Then, it did not take more than an hour to feel like I was in Venice. I was surprised by how soon I became immersed with a fake world or, more precisely, a human-made store environment (probably because some people took a ride on the gondola?).



As many of us live in cities, we are often surrounded by human-made environments. What if our thoughts and behaviors are dictated by artificial environment?




How can we improve our postures while drinking coffee?

In Hanoi, Vietnam, there is Cafe Giang, a famous local cafe known for its egg coffee. Last year, this place was introduced by CNN travel with the title of the egg coffee in Hanoi: where to get your caffeine fix.

(CNN) — Everyone at Hanoi’s humble Cafe Giang however, is after something more than just a caffeine fix. They’ve come for “cà phê trúng,” or egg coffee, a Hanoi specialty in which a creamy soft, meringue-like egg white foam is perched on dense Vietnamese coffee. While destinations across the city now serve it, this cafe claims to have invented it.
There are hot and cold versions. The former is served as a a yellow concoction in a small glass. It’s consumed with a spoon and tastes almost like a coffee flavored ice cream — more like a dessert than coffee. The hot version comes resting in a small dish of hot water to maintain its temperature. The strong coffee taste at the bottom of the cup seeps through the egg — the yellow layer on top — and is quite thick and sweet, though not sickly.

A tasty coffee with creamy foam impressed me. However, I was more impressed by the low stools. In this cafe, people bent their knees and pressed their hips back on the stools, much like doing a squat exercise.

Squats are a mainstay in about every program for trainers. The strength, power, flexibility and balance that can be gained from squats make this exercise a staple in any routine. Some people claim that we should do squat exercise everyday. Others argue that the forgotten art of squatting is a revelation for bodies ruined by sitting.

I believe, we are not only what we eat but also “how we move.” I learned this only after having gone through painful days to form a new habit such as moving computer mouse using left hand or doing computer tasks at standing desk. I suspect Vietnamese people, at least, look healthy because they develop a healthy posture habit. I may need to import their low stools to improve my bad posture habit.

3D food printers change brand image

I followed map in Prague, Czech Republic. I crossed a bridge (Legions’ Bridge), climbed up a tower (Petrin Tower), and drank beer at a local brewery (Strahov Monastery Brewery). However, I went to one place most tourists are not interested in. I visited a design exhibition held at a convention center (Výstaviště Praha Holešovice).



Professional designers opened their booths and invited visitors in the convention center. I listened to presentations, tested products, talked to designers, and bought a few items.



At one corner, I met 3D printers printing out chocolates. Although media says 3D food printers will change what we eat and I myself play with a 3D printer, this was the first time to see that food was actually printed out.





Afterwards, I became curious about this product and googled “Love Magenta.” I expected to find a person who loves the purplish red color and sell 3D food printers. Surprisingly, Love Magenta is the online store of the Deutsche TelekomThe website of “Love Magenta” says:


Magenta – so much more than just Deutsche Telekom’s corporate color, the most important element of our corporate identity.

But Magenta means even more to us: It represents our attitude towards life. Our employees show their pride in our brand with our everyday products. We showcase our favorite color perfectly in our online shop: sometimes bold, sometimes understated – but always stylish and up to date.

The shop offers a constantly changing range of high-quality products, including fashion, accessories, and gadgets. What these items have in common is the color Magenta, of course – and the love and attention dedicated to each detail. All products are designed and produced exclusively for our shop. This ensures the highest possible quality, and gives our designers complete freedom to create truly unique items. It’s never been easier for our employees and customers to express their love for Magenta in so much style.

Take a look – we’re sure you’ll find something you like.


Color is an effective marketing tool and some colors are stylish. Silver Bang & Olufsen speakers and white Balmuda toasters are eye catching. However, most success cases come from product manufacturers. How can service companies link themselves with stylish colors when they have no tangible, visible products? Deutsche Telekom gave an answer; Really New Products (RNPs) such as 3D food printers help service companies link their colors and styles. In the near future, other Really New Products such as wearable devices, voice recognition devices, or drones will be effective marketing tools for service companies to promote their own colors in stylish ways.



Jaewoo Joo | design thinking, behavioral economics, new product development, new product adoption