R[E]D – Research : Emotion : Design

A Brand Research and Development Strategy Firm


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True Brand Intelligence Lays Centered between the Head and the Heart

Today’s marketing strategy has been blown up with big data. Don’t get this wrong, data is important.

Image courtesy of Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But the human emotional connection is what truly matters. If marketers are looking for the intelligent solution to today’s modern marketing, big data alone won’t be the “golden ticket.” Data alone promises a risk of an indelible letdown.

Getting the business needle moving takes a great brand development strategy and data research that brings precision to your relevant marketing. Data alone doesn’t motivate consumers to buy. Rather, the capability to read the mind of your customers will lead to the emotional connection that drives consumers to buy.

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Credit: officenow / flickr.com

With modern-day marketers having a direct focus on big data, the emotional connection on which humans thrive is being pushed into the peripheral. RED is leading in this brand marketing strategy. Leaders know that true brand intelligence is centered between the head and the heart.


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Meet Merel Bekking, A Designer Who’s Secretly A Scientist

Borrowing techniques from neuroscience. Bekking measured how users brains responded to basic design elements. The results might surprise you.

bekking-headshot

Dutch designer Merel Bekking says she likes to “crawl inside the skin of a different specialist” for every project she does. Take InvesteRing, conceived during the economic crisis, which required Bekking to become a bit of a commodities expert. She created rings with two euros worth of a commodity, such as corn, that could be dispensed from a vending machine that cost two euros. The ring that comes out is a miniature investment, its value changing ever so slightly with the price of corn.

It’s the sort of empirical approach more often identified with scientists than artists, and Bekking proudly refers to herself as a “research-based” designer. “Every project I needed to gather as much information as I could about the subject,” she tells Co.Design. “Talk to people, try things out, read a lot. If I want to design something in a discipline I don’t know anything about, I need do to a lot of research to make a convincing design.”

Bekking’s latest project takes her scientific style to a whole new level. With the help of neuroscientist Steven Scholte from the Neurensics firm, Bekking recruited 20 people to a laboratory and slipped them inside an MRI scanner. She had cooked up a rudimentary neuroimaging study: to measure how their brains responded to various basic design elements.

To do that required two steps. First, participants looked at a series of paintings with various themes. Some of the works (like a Goya or a Caravaggio) portrayed violence. Others depicted simple social activities or food. Still others were erotic in nature. The goal was for the research team to capture a baseline portrait of each brain’s response to certain emotions, shapes, colors, and materials.

“On paper, the subjects preferred wood. In the scanner, they preferred red plastic.”

For the next step, Bekking and company fed participants a new set of roughly 250 images showing an assortment of design elements. There were five different textures, 10 colors, and eight shapes–each flashed without any additional context. By comparing the two scans, Scholte determined each brain’s true feelings toward the design elements. Outside the scanner, Bekking also asked participants to indicate which elements they thought they enjoyed most.

The results–depicted in an infographic (below) that’s been making the Internet rounds–took Bekking by surprise. The design elements that participants said they liked outside the scanner were not the same ones their brains seemed to like inside it. On paper, they preferred wooden material, the color blue, and round shapes. In the scanner, however, they betrayed a preference for red, organically shaped plastics.

bekking-infographic

“People are prone to give socially desired answers,” Bekking says, “or don’t really quite know what they like.”

Now, as pure behavioral science, the simple study would never pass peer review. No reference is made to other imaging research showing that people’s brains do, in fact, love curvy design. And deciphering the meaning behind brain activity is far from cut and dry; an active area could indicate an aversion to a certain design element just as easily as it could indicate an affection (as one U.S. neuroscientist pointed out to Motherboard).

But by the artistic metric of inspiration the research worked, with the results giving Bekking the idea for her next project. She plans to create a series of household objects with elements favored by the brains she scanned–perhaps a red chair, a plastic table, an organic vase, and so on–and present them in April during the famous Milan furniture fair Salon del Mobile. She’s eager to see how people will respond to designs their brains suggest they like but which their voices suggest they don’t.

Of course, the designer in Bekking understands that context should matter when it comes to style elements; that something red, plastic, and organic might look nice in one situation but not in another. So if it happens that people don’t like the brain-based items Bekking creates, that won’t bother her. “You do research on a subject and you have to make conclusions based on the data you have,” she says. A true scientist couldn’t have put it better.

Author: Eric Jaffe

Source: Fast Company


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FDA redesigns nutrition labels to reflect how Americans actually eat

nutrition_facts

For the first time in 20 years, the FDA has proposed changes to its Nutrition Facts food labels. In the FDA’s new designs, several important food stats have been enlarged, and some have even been recalculated in accordance with the actual serving sizes Americans eat today, The New York Times reports. “This is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country,” said First Lady Michelle Obama in the FDA’s proposal.

Most noticeably, the calorie count of a food item has been super-sized, which should make scanning labels while shopping a lot easier for dieters. The Servings Per Container line has also been enlarged, as has the methodology used to calculate these servings. 20-ounce bottles of soda would be counted as one single serving, instead of 2.5 smaller servings. On ice cream cartons, half-cup servings will be increased to a full cup to reflect how much ice cream people generally eat. Serving size updates are only being proposed on 17 percent of the approximately 150 categories of packaged food monitored by the FDA, the Times reports. Today’s serving-sized guidelines were put into place back in 1994.

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The FDA’s old labels (left) and new labels (right)

Also updated are a left-justified Daily Value column that makes parsing numbers simpler, and an Added Sugars section right below Sugars meant to highlight one of the leading causes of obesity in America, according to the FDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The FDA seems to be hoping that food companies will cut down on manufacturing added sugars just like they did with Trans Fats when they were first denoted on labels few years ago. “Calories from Fat” has been notably removed, “because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount,” the FDA says. Lastly, the labels would make Vitamin D and Potassium counts mandatory, while Vitamins A and C would be optional.

The FDA’s deputy commissioner of foods Michael Taylor estimates that the transition would cost about $2 billion and two years to carry out, but could provide $30 billion in health benefits long-term. “Things like the size of a muffin have changed so dramatically,” said FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. “It is important that the information on the nutrition fact labels reflect the realities in the world today.”

Source:
The New York Times FDA

By Ellis Hamburger

photo credit: jpalinsad360 via photopin cc


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Personalized products and content-led conversation will win in 2014

The global e-commerce industry is expected to generate $1.2 trillion in sales by the end of this year, driven largely by the changing shopping habits of consumers, as they increasingly browse and buy across mobile, tablet and even social networks. Despite this predicted growth, 2014 will not be a year for retailers to rest on their laurels.

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Retailers will have access to more information about their customers’ preferences and shopping habits than ever before and retailers must take steps to better understand the purchase journey. This insight will give retailers the understanding they need to develop relevant content and personalize deals, and ultimately help to generate more sales. Shoppers are looking for a richer, more personal shopping experience and retailers must reassess both how they sell and what they sell if they are to thrive.

Here are 5 top tips for those retailers wanting to stand out from the crowd next year using personalization:

1.     Content shopping will be king
The lines between entertainment and shopping are blurring further and 2014 will see more retailers offer shoppers a richer, content-led shopping experience. Driven by the media, which have become retailers in their own right to bolster dwindling revenues from advertising and subscriptions, savvy retailers are using multimedia content to make the shopping experience more engaging. Retailers recognize that shoppers are no longer satisfied by the vending machine model of the last decade; they want to be entertained and informed as they browse the web and make purchasing decisions.

2.     Social will steer retailers’ stocking decisions
Social media’s power to influence what people buy is widely recognized and in 2014 it will also influence what retailers sell. The rapid growth of social curation communities like Pinterest, where consumers curate their own collections of products that they like, offers retailers access to invaluable insights in near real-time, something that traditional market research simply cannot compete with. Savvy retailers will use social shopping communities as a temperature check for popular product trends and use this insight to inform and refine stocking decisions.

3.     Omni-channel will require a single customer view
In any given day a shopper could interact with a brand on multiple devices and through multiple platforms, from mobile browsing in the morning, to lunchtime shopping on a work laptop. In 2014, a top priority for retailers will be to join-up the dots between these channels so that a more comprehensive customer profile can be developed. Insight garnered by analyzing the purchase journey of shoppers will help retailers to streamline the channels through which they sell and personalize the shopping experience, helping to boost bottom lines.

4.     Hyper targeting will take the online personalization in-store
The long-held dream of being able to target shoppers in real-time, with relevant and personalized location-based offers took a big step forward in 2013 with Apple’s launch of iBeacon, which allows precise, low-cost indoor tracking in stores. There has been much excitement about the prospect of hyper-targeting shoppers on the go and in 2014 retailers will begin to take this proposition more seriously. We expect to see a number of high profile trials of hyper-targeting technology as retailers grapple to deliver the highly personalized experience that shoppers now expect online in their high street stores.

5.     Mass customization will make products feel personal
Consumers today want something that’s unique and reflects their personality. Retailers understand this and we are seeing more companies offer personalized products, from custom engravings to the ability to select bag zip or pocket colour in advance. There is a huge opportunity for small to medium enterprises to carve out a market niche against bigger retailers, while adding value to existing products through customization. Furthermore, the concept of customization should extend beyond the product itself; retailers need to look at how they can offer a more customized shopping experiences online by using insights gathered in customer profiles.

by Shingo Murakam


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What’s the big deal with big data? Big data provides consumer research that keeps businesses abuzz

Big_Data_Web

Big Data is one of the latest phenomenon to hit tech news. This is no surprise as experts in the industry are constantly abuzz about the benefits of Big Data on marketers and any business trying to get deeper insights about their consumers. Yet, for many this new idea of data collection remains a mystery.

So what’s the big deal about Big Data?

Big data is the hottest method for businesses to target their audiences, analyze their outreach, and understand how to craft the most effective marketing effort possible. For the tech world, the devices get smaller, but the data keeps getting bigger.

As we learned to incorporate targeted emotional research into each project, we see more success for our clients,  and design that is more than aesthetics or decoration. –
R[E]D – Research : Emotion : Design

Think ‘Big’ — no, seriously

It’s important to first understand exactly what Big Data is. The first thing to consider is that Big Data is made up of the three V’s: Volume, Velocity, and Variety.

Volume is the large amount of data that can be stored. Advances in technology allow us to store a lot more information into smaller amounts of space. As hard-drives get larger, and languages like Hadoopallow programmers to cram more information into smaller code, we are able to store giant data sets that are far larger than any in the past.

Velocity is the rate at which this data is collected. Rather than hand-recorded information, computers are able to constantly record online activity as it happens. This allows for rapidly expanding amounts of data to be stored. Today, computers continuously collect data at a consistent rate from anywhere at anytime.

Variety refers to the vast, diverse types of data that the computers can track. Where humans were once limited to only knowing a small set of information (the information voluntarily given by the subjects), businesses now have a much deeper look at everything a person is doing—from how long they stay on a webpage to what purchases they make online, with minimal error.

Farming social media

So how does social media play into the phenomenon of Big Data?

Social Tree

When you think about it, social media is one of the largest data farms out there. No, I’m not talking about Farmville. Through social media, people are publicly stating their opinions on products and services, checking into businesses, and providing deeper insight into every facet of their lives. This becomes a huge opportunity for businesses to collect and analyze all of these preferences. This provides a sample size of hundreds of millions of people across a handful of social networks all feeding personal data.

With a larger set of information to draw from, businesses get a stronger understanding of how consumers behave. They can analyze broader trends based on what people are doing with a higher accuracy rate because everyone is contributing unfiltered information.

This constant stream of social data allows companies to discover new, creative ways to showcase and analyze consumer behavior. The only limit is how they connect all the data together. 

Connecting big data and social

So how is this data shaping tech? The possibilities are endless.

At its most basic, companies can now effectively monitor everything said across different social networks. With this virtual omnipresence, companies can quickly respond to a customer complaint, suggest a purchase, or promote their product to their audiences.

Machine Learning allows businesses to engage with users and garner the most reach possible. By collecting heaps of data from previous posts and user activity, computers are able to analyze what is the best time to post to social networks.

Digital storytelling is also an interesting way to break down all the information in a fun and informative way. By now, majority of people have seen a compelling infograph, but some content creators are going deeper. SGI, a digital graphic and computer solutions company, made a video showing the evolving conversation around Hurricane Sandy. Through the video you can see the GPS locations of tweets regarding the hurricane as it travels across America.

The most popular (and perhaps creepiest) example of effective use of Big Data was by Target. By tracking consumer purchasing patterns and ‘likes’, Target’s predictive analytics were able to accurately determine that a teenage girl was pregnant before her family knew.

Big Data is still a bit of a mystery as there are new ways of use being developed every day. If you’re interested in diving into this new phenomenon there are different ways you can get your hands on Big Data including: collecting it yourself with low-cost programs, buying the data from database companies, or collecting it from social media monitoring suites.

Either way, don’t sleep on this new concept — it’s an invaluable asset to finding and understanding your audiences. When it comes to data, bigger is better.

by Jeff Anaya


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DO YOU KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS?

“Research That Provides Big Data”

 

Customer Research

To truly be a successful company, you must know who your customers are and why they buy your brand. The pace of the world is growing faster all the time. Consumers are dying to catch up. A common frustration for consumers is too much of the wrong thing. They are bombarded with too much to choose from, but they still can’t find what they need. Break the everyday consumer from their frustrations by coming to know your customer. Technology can bring you great insights into your customers’ wants and needs. The data is there, you just need to access it. Learn how to know your consumer through big data. Research opens your brand to communicate with your customer by learning about the emotions that drive them. Knowing your customer will communicate to them that you see them as not just a target, but an individual.