Aradhna Krishna’s new book on sensory marketing “Customer Sense” is a welcome addition to a very select list of reading on the topic. Aradhna has already edited “Sensory Marketing”, which contains chapters by experts in each of the five senses, many full of interesting insights and examples of how the senses work and how brands can create more engaging product and service experiences.
Inattentional blindness is the failure to mentally process a stimulus that is in clear view, leaving the observer without any awareness of the stimulus. It is a psychological lack of attention that typically happens when other tasks demanding attention are being performed. Read more »
AEIOU is a frequently used framework for guiding and structuring observational research. The framework creates a taxonomy of observations under the themes of Activities, Environments, Interactions, Objects and Users and is commonly used for coding observational data. Read more »
Observation is a fundamental skill for designers and researchers, requiring focus on hearing and seeing human behaviour, environments, events, artifacts and social interactions. Observational methods are often described in terms of their degree of formality and the level of structure designed into the observations and recording methods, as well as their intended use. Read more »
Cognitive dissonance is a feeling of discomfort on holding conflicting ideas, values, opinions, beliefs or emotions at the same time. This leads to a tendency to seek consistency by changing the importance or quality of one or more of the ideas, values, opinions, beliefs or emotions.The phrase ‘cognitive dissonance’ was first coined by Leon Festinger in 1956, inspired by his work studying a UFO cult, and which he later developed into a full theory in his book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. This is one of the most influential theories in social psychology, and one of the most extensively researched. Read more »
Researchers can unobtrusively collect information using fly-on-the-wall observation, where there is no direct participation or interference with the people or behaviours that are being observed. This is a different approach to other types of observation (eg participant observation), intentionally avoiding direct involvement and therefore minimising the biases and influences that such involvement brings. However, the inability to connect with those observed or to probe behaviours and motivations can limit this approach.This makes such observation relatively less structured and more flexible than other approaches, although often guided by frameworks such as AEIOU which will be described in another article).
Designers and researchers can fall into one of two categories when conducting such observation according to John Seizel: secret outsiders or recognised outsiders. Secret outsiders are typically viewing out of sight of the view of participants and are ‘observing at a distance’. In this case, any influences are minimised but it can be difficult to pick up on nuances of interactions between participants and environment as well as social interactions. Recognised outsiders are made known to participants as is their role as an observer. However, they still make sure that they appear natural and unobtrusive in the environment.
Despite such efforts, it is well known that people change their behaviours when being observed . The ‘Hawthorne effect’ was famously discovered in a study of worker productivity in response to changes in lighting conditions. In the original study, productivity of workers increased whatever lighting or other changes were made in the environment, suggesting that change in itself had led to the increase, or the increase reflected the interest shown in the workers.
Observation methods should always reflect the situation and the research objectives. Fly-on-the-wall observation is appropriate for building understanding of public spaces and activities or work activities (where observation is likely to have minimal disruptive or influence effects). If there is a likelihood that people will alter their behaviour and verbal responses when an observer is present, then fly-on-the-wall may be the right observation approach.
Design ethnography, observation, participant observation and shadowing will be the subject of future articles in this series.
Universal Methods of Design by Bella Martin & Bruce Hanington (2012)
Inquiry by Design: Environmental, Behaviour.Neuroscience in Architecture, Interiors, Landscape and Planning by John Zeisel
Every year IBM make five predictions about the future five years out (they call it “5 in 5″), and this years are fascinating, especially for anyone interested in the human senses. This year the five predictions cover the five senses, and I can’t wait to see if they come true. Read more »
Cognitive maps reveal people’s underlying decision making rules. They are a visual representation of how we make sense of a problem, issue or idea, revealing how we think about the problem and how we structure our ideas around it. Read more »
If you want to get to the heart of a customer’s relationship with a brand experience, asking them to write a personal letter can often reveal deep insights about what they value and expect from even the most everyday objects and interactions. Read more »
[This is an edited version of a talk for IAA Singapore and 4As on 26th September 2012]
Advertising can learn much from the latest understanding of the brain just as market research can (read more here). Although there is much to learn, here are three important lessons:
- relevant context
- emotional meaning
- repeat repeat repeat (but not in the way you might think) Read more »