Every marketer talks about creating the next big thing - but a parallel challenge is to operationalize it. Yes, one needs to be 'innovative' or 'imaginative' - but how?. A great example can be found in designer Tithi Kutchamuch’s work at her website. I think the essence of her work is simplicity and a drive to personalize the consumer experience. A lot of her ideas spring from a simple thought based on very basic consumer insight.
In her project “a cup of” – she starts very simply with the statement
Each Drink have their own typology of vessel e.g. beer mug, wine glass, coffee cup, milk bottle etc.
How about when we mix the drinks?
To me, the above lines have brilliance of being able to start so many thoughts because they are based on basic consumer truths. This thought conveys that beverage consumption is not just an event but a ritual where many things play a role, e.g. the setting, the occasion, the location and the container. Tithi has gone ahead to create cups where you can experiment with this ritual by mixing of drinks. What's impressive is her simple and visual layout to present her ideas.However the bigger thought again is the ability to imagine the consumer situation (I doubt many beverage marketers could come up with this insight) which paves way for simple, yet new, ideas. Imagine the possibilities for a juice manufacturer who might want to grow in a tea dominated market. Can we create a ritual of consumption of a juice mixed with tea and position the brand around “good to go with your morning tea”?
A similar idea of hers is “my tea time” – which brings in the setting also into the picture. Tithi has designed trays based on the setting and the drink consumed. The whole design just heightens the beverage consumption experience.
We learn to ask four questions from here:
1. Can I personalize the product experience?
2. Can I visualize the product experience?
3. Can I ask very simple ‘what ifs’ based on my understanding of the environment?
4. Can I enhance the product experience by changing the environment?
There is a recent growth of an experiential form of product consumption - Starbucks has been riding on this wave. Can we try this on a completely different situation? Let us take an example of a Bank ATM (any time machine).
Applying the 4 rules we learnt in this context -
1. How do we personalize the experience?
Personally ATMs remind me of annoying queues or irritating delays where the machine does not work or being in a hurry because I just want to get the money and be somewhere else.
2. What can I visualize of the experience? Cramped rooms, staring at the back of somebody’s head, listening to random segment of someone personal conversation on a cell phone.
3. Now comes the tough one – What are the "What ifs" I can ask based on this picture?
- What if I can get some other work done while waiting?
- What if I can meet some interesting people who are there?
- What if I really enjoy being in the small room?
- What if the ATM machine for a change gave me some pleasant surprises along with the cash?
What if I can get some other work done while waiting?
- Can I offer free internet on mobile devices for people to browse while they wait
- Can I Bluetooth-enable the area near the ATM so that customer can key in the request in advance using the mobile while waiting or maybe do some other bank transactions (obviously this idea would have some security concerns)
- Can I pay utility bills using the ATM’s
What if I can meet some interesting people who are there?
- Can there be an incentive for people to meet others and collaborate – reward for a pair who enter a contest while waiting. Can I make the ATM a social hotspot (OK this is a wild one but maybe there is some culture out there where people are desperate for a conversation with others)
What if I really enjoy being in the small room?
- Can the ATM machine be anything other than a stupid box with a screen. Can I collaborate with product makers such that I use the latest Macbook Air, iPhone, or the Wiimote to enter the request. Obviously this will work more where there are no long queues However there are clear co-branding and revenue opportunities (ATM as a media contact point)
- Can I give random reward points?
Overall, the learning is to be on the lookout for innovative ideas - inspiration can strike you from anywhere. It's more likely to come from unconventional sources like cup and crockery designers.