Five different generations now have purchasing power, so how are companies figuring out how to best serve each of these generations individually? Mostly by conducting research to learn how behaviors among generations can impact marketing campaigns and purchasing habits. We attended a recent conference at the Carlson School of Management whose goal was to answer this question. Eight keynote speakers presented, including representatives from Target, Under Armour, Starbucks and Electronic Arts.
One part of the conference that particularly stood out to us was the talk by Linh Peters, vice president of brand marketing for Starbucks. In 2017, Starbucks was attempting to relaunch its Nitro Cold Brew coffee, trying to make it relevant nationwide. Through qualitative research, Starbucks found that the taste and texture of the coffee were what resonated with customers most strongly. However, at the same time customers were confused about how the nitro process connects to that taste and texture experience. So Starbucks had to build understanding and believability when relaunching the Nitro Cold Brew. Its strategy included bringing on Bill Nye (“the Science Guy”) as a spokesperson for the campaign, with hopes of educating customers on the nitro process in a less technical fashion. Nye was brought in also because he resonates with multiple generations, and Nitro Cold Brew was intended to appeal to the mass market.
This case study and others from this conference started us thinking about how our clients are figuring out the best ways to reach their core consumers and what research they might be conducting in order to improve their own strategy. How is your company tackling the ever-changing consumer market? Connect with us to continue the conversation.
In June we braved the heat in Scottsdale, Arizona, to join other user experience (UX) professionals, including designers, researchers and academics, to exchange techniques, tools, trends and beyond at the UXPA International Conference. Here are a few takeaways:
Gen Z and Millennials are not the same
Gen Zers were raised differently than Millennials – one study suggests that the average attention span for Gen Zers is 8 seconds, compared to 12 seconds for Millennials. They seek authenticity and are clear/choosy about where they post and look for content. They are impacting the way we spend, the way we make decisions and the way we seek information. Which raises the question “What can Gen Zers tell about you in 8 seconds?”
Universal/inclusive design is helpful to all
With the rise in the use of technology among consumers, the opportunity to enhance the user experience is greatly increased but must be done with care and intention. By designing with inclusion in mind, not only do we enhance the experience for some, but we also can be helpful to all.
Develop individuals, as well as the team
The conference offered insight into trends and tools as well as included sessions on personal development and the importance of diversity and inclusion within the workplace. We learned that in order to retain the best talent, it is important to cultivate and protect an inclusive culture.
Do you remember the night before the first day of school? The nerves start to settle in, excitement about meeting your new teachers rises and you can barely wait to debut your new school clothes.
At 15 years old, you are most likely entering the 10th grade. You know where the best lunch spots are, school dances are familiar, and you’ve found the best shortcuts to your classes. But throughout the year, the feeling of more responsibility comes upon you.
The questions of “Where do you want to go to college?” “What do you want to study?” and “When are you taking the ACT?” start to consume your free time. We remember those tough conversations and the unfamiliarity of what lies ahead.
We turned to our good friend Annie, whose advice to her younger self speaks volumes about the possibilities that lie ahead for all 15-year-olds.
“Push yourself to dream BEYOND the boundaries of the impossible!”
Our project has gifted us with advice that is valuable not only for every 15-year-old but for all ages. If you have a nugget of wisdom to share with us, visit our Quote to Self website to participate. We want to hear from you!
Follow our Quote to Self Instagram and Facebook pages to see other advice we’ve collected thus far.
Normally, travelers to India avoid the rainy, humid monsoon season that runs from July to September. But our principals, Kerry and Kasey, have packed their umbrellas and traveled to Kolkata, India, for a very special project.
In 2016, we connected with a company called Freeset – located in West Bengal, India – with a mission to provide employees with safe working environments and fair wages as they make organic and eco-friendly apparel and accessory items. We loved their work and ordered custom bags for our 2017 holiday gifts. Since then, we stayed in touch with the team at Freeset and have followed their journey to provide better solutions for those who are impoverished in India.
We are excited to share that we are partnering with Freeset again but in a different way. As a part of our year of giving, we are donating our research, strategy and creative services to help Freeset move into the future and deepen their impact. As part of the research phase, Kerry and Kasey are interviewing employees in Kolkata. Upon their return, our team will develop recommendations for brand positioning and creative development.
We’re thrilled to be working with Freeset to support their mission and will be sharing more details at our 15th anniversary party, so stay tuned!
Jam-packed into just two days, the Digital Thinkers conference 2019 brought together 26 industry leaders to share their thoughts on the future of the web. Held at the doorstep to Silicon Valley, it featured speakers from some of the largest, most influential digital companies in the world, including Google, Facebook and Airbnb. More than 1,000 attendees from all over the world, including people from our team, gathered at the historic Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco to soak it all in. While we walked away with heads full of inspiration and actionable to-dos, we reflected on our favorite takeaways. Here are just a few:
“The vessel can be as special as the idea itself.”
– Alex Cornell, Former Product Design Lead at Facebook
Nonconventional presentations were abundant during the conference, from T-shirt cannons to beautifully animated slide decks, and that stuck with us. Nothing was quite as special as Alex Cornell’s time on stage. He took us on a nonlinear path through more of a performance piece than a presentation. He and others proved how an idea can’t sell itself, no matter how excellent. It’s the conversation and context provided alongside the idea that gives it staying power in the mind of the audience. That vessel can be just as weird or complex as the original idea. Brandy Porter, director of brand design at MailChimp, also summed up the importance of weird: “Be weird, and be intentional in that weirdness … When we show our weird, we connect with our customers intimately.”
“All design is designing for the future – immediate, near or far. It’s imagining a desirable state and then giving it form.”
— Lisa Ding, Senior Product Designer at Twitter
Sometimes conversations about the digital space can feel futuristic and far-fetched, making it hard to find actionable solutions for right now. Lisa Ding told us to avoid the darkness that the idea of the future often holds and to embrace the fact that every day we are working toward creating something useful for tomorrow, next week or next year. Erik Klimczak, principal design director at Uber, discussed his methodology of designing at scale to future-proof developments. This methodology assumes every issue is infinitely connected to larger problems creating a need to zoom in and out to see how your solution affects or creates patterns to find the best solution.
“Designers no longer just design components themselves: They design policies that govern a system of components.”
— Hayley Hughes, Experience Designer at Airbnb
Hayley Hughes noted that designers can prove their value by being able to see components from a 30,000-foot view and not just how they physically look on the page. Design systems can help businesses make an efficient, resourceful environment and allow designers to focus on creating solutions that impact human experiences. Building and using a mutual or shared language will help with everything from accessibility to creating seamless teams. Similarly, Peter Smart from global design agency Fantasy Interactive pushed us to commit to getting beyond the most viable product and to design for the full human being: “Convention is just permission to try better … Fill your product with life. If it makes you happy, it will make others happy as well.”