It happens here: Consumer-centric Innovation in Charlotte and beyond


Don’t forget the conclusion! Data-driven decision-making for everyday choices by Nheeda Enriquez
March 23, 2010, 2:22 am
Filed under: consumer behavior, delighters, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

photo via easybloom (click for larger)

At work, I’ve been thinking a lot about how consumers consume data and use it to make everyday decisions.  Now that we live in always-connected, info-lusting world, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that there are examples of it everywhere after I leave the office.  I’ve been using a calorie-counting app on my iPhone to balance food with exercise over the last two weeks.  I’ve played around with Mint.com and TurboTax to make decisions that deal with money.

Over the weekend, I used a sensor-based device called EasyBloom to decide what seeds to plant in my backyard, based on the chemistry of the soil and the amount of sun it gets (clearly, my plants get no sun at night, as the picture will above confirms.)  And while the chart is nice to have for reference, what’s far more important about the data is what I should do about it.  Since I’m no gardener, the insight and the expert recommendations that companies make for me is where the value lives.

I’ve written about data visualization before, and there’s many many beautiful examples of it everywhere.  Then what’s the lesson here?  Sometimes as designers and businessfolks, we forget to finish drawing the conclusion and offer the viewer a point of view by which to process those great charts, graphs, and lines.  Be that an insight, a recommendation, or a call to action, remember to give consumers the ending!



Grocery store delighter: McCormick’s Pre-measured Spices by Nheeda Enriquez

I was at Harris Teeter the other day and caught this little delighter – pre-measured spice packs combined with recipes.  I wished this was around when I was in college, I would have saved myself tons of bland meals because I was too cheap to buy all the spices I needed.  Aside from actually solving for a problem that exists, what I love about it is that it probably didn’t cost a fortune to develop.  It simply re-proportions existing products.  It reminds me of a marketing trend of packaging smaller portions of goods to bring down the price so that consumers in developing countries can afford them.

click for larger

I realize that this is technically not a “delighter” per se, but the solution itself sure delighted me anyway!



Black Friday Delighter by Nheeda Enriquez

flickr photo credit: highstrungloner

My love affair with Apple is no secret, and this probably doesn’t qualify as a delighter so much as an enabling process innovation, but while I was at home last week in NYC, I made a pit stop at the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue.

Unfortunately, it was also Black Friday, and given that the product I needed was for myself and not a gift, I gasped when I saw the hundreds of shoppers as I walked down the grand spiral staircase.  The thought of waiting in an enormous line to pay for a little FM transmitter made me want to do without it for one more road trip.

But then I discovered that every store associate was a walking point of sale.  Each one was armed with what seemed like an iPhone on steroids, complete with bar code scanner and credit card slot.  They emailed a receipt to an address already tied to the credit card from a previous purchase and I was in and out in less than 5 minutes.

What a game-changer!  Apple banks a lot more sales per hour, they save their customers gobs of time, and they have a system that can be licensed to other retailers on a platform of products they already sell.  Genius.



Searching for the familiar: A parking lot delighter! by Nheeda Enriquez

IMG_0210

I saw this lovely sign over in the Green Parking lot in Uptown Charlotte the other day and I couldn’t help but smile.  It was an unexpected yet ever-so-helpful delighter designed to help me remember where I parked.

Sometimes I’ll type a quick note in my phone to remind me where the car is. Or, in especially confusing lots like the Long Term lots at the airport, I’ll even GPS-tag the location.  But when you’re in a hurry, nothing beats a simple picture with a caption, “It takes two to tango” to burn the image in my head.

Besides helping me find my car, this sign also reminded me of two NY Times articles I had seen recently:

  • I find myself thinking often about how to make it easier for people to try a new product or service, and sometimes it’s appropriate to bring in something familiar to help transition folks from an older mental model into a new one.
  • Of course, in the spirit of planning for unintended consequences, an article about the sad possibility of losing your navigational prowess when of adapting a common technology like GPS into one’s everyday life.


I heart Supercook: choice editing at its finest by Nheeda Enriquez
logo via supercook

logo via supercook

For weeks now, I’ve been preaching the wonders of Supercook to anyone who will listen (although the site’s been around for a little while.)  It’s a lovely solution to the problem of sorting through infinite amounts of digital information to make everyday choices.  In a nutshell, you tell Supercook what you’ve got in your fridge or cabinet, and it offers you a set of recipes you can make right now, without leaving the house.

Roger Dooley over at his Neuromarketing blog also shares a good analysis of choice editing in other interfaces, mostly using sliders and rating systems.  What Supercook and these other examples do well is organize options so they’re customized to your preferences.  At the same time, these sites succeed in giving you have access to the universe of choice should you want it.



A quick visit to a recent past: Part 2 by Nheeda Enriquez

I’m off traveling for a week, so I wanted to take this opportunity to revisit three “timeless” posts on broader innovation topics.  The second is about recognizing clever “delighters” and why something so little can actually mean quite a lot.

Enjoy!
Nheeda

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Lunchtime delighter!
May 29, 2009

I’m always on the lookout for delighters, which are unexpected little features you find in products and service that can really make your day.  They’re generally not widely advertised (ie “fastest processor in this price range of laptops!”) but are left to be discovered by a user who then goes on to spread the love and create buzz around the product (hence this blog post.)

lowesbag

I visited Lowes Foods for the first time to grab a quick sandwich, and I was delightfully surprised to find this handy bag, saving the typical deciphering of a deli counter that’s new to you: understanding the protocols, what’s available and at what price.  I checked off the boxes for the different ingredients I wanted.  Contrast this with the self-serve touchscreen at Jason’s Deli (or Wawa, for those from the northern part of the country.)  It reminds us that sometimes a good solution for 80% of the population can be simple, low-tech, and inexpensive.  AND it can help you carry your lunch.



Pedestrian delighter! by Nheeda Enriquez
September 22, 2009, 12:37 am
Filed under: Charlotte, delighters, sports | Tags: , , ,

crosswalkI drove by another interesting little delighter today on MLK Blvd.  With progress continuing on the new Nascar Hall of Fame, I was tickled by the crosswalk pattern surrounding the building.  It is one of those clever little ideas that really brings the whole concept together, and this simple design will definitely help future guests remember their visit.

Actually, this story from That’s Racin’ notes that the checkerboard pattern is not painted, but rather created from plastic tiles.  I’ll have to see how it compares to the rubber sidewalk in Plaza Midwood!




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