Design-led Customer Experience for Brands
By You Jin Chung
A Design Management graduate student at Lancaster University in the UK, You Jin double majored in both Clothing & Textiles, and Business Administration as an undergrad. Before starting her post-grad work at Lancaster, she worked as an assistant fashion merchandiser in Korea for JC Penney and Ann Taylor. You Jin currently is exploring the value of design strategy and its application to the private and public sectors and the following highlights some of her recent research findings. Email You Jin here.
As the agenda of design has shifted from designing products for users to designing experience for people, customer experience has increasingly been receiving attention. However, the focus of existing studies has been on the influence of business functions on customer experience, such as marketing. The attention to customer experience from design viewpoints calls for the application of designers' sensibility and a design approach to the existing marketing-based disciplines. Therefore I view customer experience from a design point-of-view in order to explore its contribution to creating meaningful customer experience.
Although companies know a lot about customers' consuming habits, income, and other features used to classify them, they often know little about the emotions, thoughts and states of mind that customers' interactions with products, services, and brands induce. Accordingly, much more profound and multifarious learning is required in order to understand human experience and the design of experience. When designing experience, it is crucial to understand the principles of how people interact with various types of artifacts, and how those interactions influence the experience people have.
Design Thinking for Deeper Understanding
Design strategy and a creative design approach can address key issues faced in the design of experience and to support the understanding of personal, social and cultural influences on experience. Design strategy is a plan for efficiently using design and its methodologies in order to find the best solutions to problems. Interestingly, design has different professional styles of approaches to problem solving that come from other business functions.
Design thinking, a human-centered innovation process, is a representative approach from design perspectives that involve a deep understanding that will help identify challenges and discover opportunities in order to create new solutions. The design methodologies that design thinking entails are observational or ethnographic research, visualization of ideas, and rapid iteration of prototypes. These can help brands understand the consumer experience in branded stores more profoundly and then transcend their expectations.
Engaging Customers in the Design Experience
Key considerations of experience design in brand stores - such as atmospherics, information and accessibility of product and services, customer engagement and harmonization of touchpoints - provide roles in which design can be strategically involved. A brand store is a place where most of the touchpoints that constitute customer experiences have a strong presence. However, because of its intangible and emotional characteristics, customer experience is subject to a number of unpredictable variables in stores and difficult to manage.
This is the key reason why design strategy needs to be engaged in the design of experience. By allocating design elements to the right position in brand stores, design strategy can positively influence customer experience. Since it is compatible in its nature with other business strategies, design strategy can bring new insights often missed by the dependence of market-based data.
Apple as a Catalyst for Innovation
The influence of design strategy has been already proven by design-led companies like Apple. If you visit Apple Stores, you will find that their design strategy is translated into its products, services and stores. As an indisputable catalyst for innovation, design can support the ideation in a creative process, increase the rate of generating breakthrough ideas and locate them to the right context.
It is essential for companies to look at experience from a design perspective in order to understand various factors that influence the experience of customers in depth, in turn providing a successful future for their brand.
Abbing, E. R. (2010) Brand-driven Innovation; Bruce, M. and Cooper, R. (1997) Marketing and Design Management; Forlizzi, J. and Ford, S. (2000) The Building Blocks of Experience; Lockwood, T. (2008) Building Design Strategy; Meyer, C. and Schwager, A. (2007) Understanding Customer Experience; Sanders, E. and Stappers, P.J. (2008) Co-creation and the New Landscapes of Design.
Individualize Your Sleep Experience - Only at Sleep Number
As one of the national's leading bed retailers, Select Comfort Corporation's vision is to become the new standard in sleep by providing individualized sleep experiences and elevating people's expectations above the "one-size-fits-all" solution offered by other mattress brands. Today, the newly designed SLEEP NUMBER® store creates a consumer-centric, interactive shopping environment that transforms a purely rational shopping experience to one that maximizes both rational and emotional appeals, and elevates the Sleep Number® experience to the full potential of the brand. Now open in Oakbrook, Illinois, the JGA-designed Premier format elevates the non-mall store design as an over-the-top differentiated Sleep Number® experience in a destination location, while broadening awareness and consideration. The store exudes a sense of residential quality, featuring a neutral color palette with modern and refined furniture choices, with interactive cues throughout the store at key consumer touchpoints. For more on this innovative way to shop for mattresses and bedding, watch for details in an upcoming issue of DDI Magazine. Click here for more information.
NRF Goes Luxe in 2012
As the National Retail Federation kicks off on Sunday, January 15, 2012, throngs of international attendees will learn about "Retail's New Rules," the theme of this year's Big Show. JGA Chairman Ken Nisch, along with an esteemed panel of presenters will focus on Luxury in the Eye of the Beholder. As when it comes to the purchase, enjoyment and collection of luxury items, products, services and places, the eye of the beholder can be quite different depending on their cultural, economic, political, and ethical values. Accessible luxury is a dynamic spot today where certain traditional brands are creating places and products for an aspiring new luxury class, while performance and technical brands are creating a new standard of luxury in categories such as sport, technology, and services that might not have been considered as part of the traditional luxury marketplace. Our presentation will explore this shifting marketplace: How brands, particularly in this new territory of luxury, are seeking to create commercial scale, while maintaining a sense of aspiration and exclusivity. Joining Ken will be Amit Dutta, Managing Director of Luxury Hues (India), Gregory Furman, Founder and Chairman of The Luxury Marketing Council, and Ignaz Gorischek, VP Store Development of Neiman Marcus. Don't miss Luxury in the Eye of the Beholder - on Monday, January 16th at 2:00 pm. In the Javits Center in NYC, Hall E, Room 1E 12/13. For more, click here.
Now Open in India: Parx
Just before Christmas, the "house" prototype concept for the Parx brand opened in Pune, India, creating a series of stages, segments, and distinctive experiences within the store's 1,000+ square foot typical footprint. At the entrance, a backlit natural onyx panel adds a rich, real character as a background to the Parx signature "leaping stag" and logo. The storefront's internally illuminated runway carries the brightness and glow of the alabaster panel into the display area, where a group of mannequins are casually posed as if engaged in conversation. Dramatic overscaled black stained archway elements draw the customer back into the "second storefront." These facade arches act as a perfect background for visual merchandising, are highlighted through thresholds of polished copper-fleck granite and draw the customer to and through this first portal into the "Den" area of the store. Within this area are featured dress shirts, displayed with library-like order and rigidity, including the use of push-through acrylic boxes; adding a bit of retro contrast to the traditional materials and framework that surround them. For details about the new concept, designed by JGA in collaboration with Future Research Design Company (FRDC), check out this grand opening feature from Fibre2Fashion in India: click here.
Ken Nisch on Retail
Indian TV Interview
Ken Nisch recently spoke at the Franchise India Conference held in Delhi, India. As part of their Retail Knowledge Series, Ken presented: Iconicity, The Four Dimensions of Branding. While at the conference, Ken was interviewed for a related TV series on retail trends, and discussed how with the changing legislation in India, "Retailers will have to change their strategy for elements like presentation, fixturing, and even distribution." The interview is featured here.
Holiday Newspaper Roundup
USA Today: Customers May Shop Online in Store
Ken Nisch was quoted in a USA Today feature by Jayne O'Donnell about today's shopping technology, saying, "Online is not a default mechanism for the failure of bricks-and-mortar stores to satisfy the customer, but a complement. It will soon be part of the expected shopping behavior to have receipts e-mailed and to book appointments with retailers online." Read more here.
USA Today: Be Vigilant to Avoid Impulse Purchases
In another holiday story about how retailers are trying to turn shoppers into buyers, whether online or in-store, Ken was quoted about the retailer mindset, "In most cases, you can only increase profits by selling people things that cost more or to get them to buy more," said Nisch. Read more here.
Detroit News: Stores Pull All Nighters
In a last minute holiday crunch feature, retail reporter Jaclyn Trop interviewed Patrick Dalessandro, JGA Director of Client Strategy, about how retailers are adapting to consumers' shopping habits. Pat commented, "The morphing store schedules are changing our definition of what 'last minute' means. You see retailers bending to the needs of the consumers. But there's no doubt the move helps retailers. They have more opportunity to move merchandise without discounting heavily to make way for January shipments, and studies show 7 p.m. is the most profitable hour for many stores around the holidays. The later they're open, the more profitable those stores are." Read more here.
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