In a nutshell
We live in a consumer society where all companies are trying every means to influence consumers' purchasing decisions. So how do we make the right decision when faced with multiple options? Under the theme of "conscious consumption", we were asked to design an interactive product or service that solves the problem.
"Conscious consumption" is a fairly big topic. Finding a small but accurate touchpoint is not easy. We divided the buying decision process into "before", "during" and "after" to find out at which moment and how people's purchase decisions are influenced.
We created a mobile app named "Dcidr". It is a real-time voting app that helps users make the best decisions when they shop at brick-and-mortar stores. By choosing the default "A or B" or "Buy it or not" templates, users could easily create their questions in less than a minute and are able to get real-time feedback from people with the same taste.
Right Choice, Right Time.
A purchase is far more than a simple economic action: it has social and psychological implications.
Personal identity is often strongly linked to an image projected by products one buys.
People make prompt decisions with their subconscious.
We designed a set of artifacts as probe toolkit and recruited six participants. The whole period lasted for two weeks and we gathered all the workbooks back.
We found out that although our participants are of different age and profession, they had something in common when it comes to shopping.
People's love towards a certain product can be easily extended to its accessories
People will read online reviews and think over for a long time when they want to buy something expensive
Most impulsive buying decisions are motivated by salesperson at stores and friends who own the similar products
Sometimes, people are happy with their "Bought but seldom used" items which could provide them with a sense of reassurance and comfort.
Cultural Probes Tookit
The toolkit aims at encouraging participants to dream about things they want, think about things they have and reflect on things rarely used by asking them to draw, write and snap.
"Happy moments" taken by three different participants
We conducted a 30-minute observation at the 7-Eleven convenience store on our campus and found out that:
Too many options make it harder to choose
Friends influence one's purchase decisions
It takes longer time for girls to make decisions than boys
Role-Playing & Scenarios
We divided the buying decision process into "before", "during" and "after" and build three scenarios accordingly. Then we acted them out for a better understanding of the potential and effective touchpoints. Below are some interesting findings.
People gather information from mixed sources - social media reviews, company website, friend's recommendation, and physical store
People trust peer reviews
People are price-conscious
Friends influence one's purchase decisions
People don't pay for actual things, they pay for how things make them feel
Moving is a time for people to recognize their never used or rarely used items
When choosing between two things of similar functions, people make trade-offs.
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE JOURNEY
How can we help people
make the right decisions
at this moment?
To better design for the "critical moment", we analyzed all our findings from initial research, cultural probes and role-playing, and generated three major insights.
People buy emotions, not things
People don't buy things, they buy how things make them feel.
The crowd leads the way
Most of the people's preferences are learned and formed by social norms and expectations
Asking people around for purchase decisions face-to-face or through instant messaging platforms is commonplace
Chat with friend
about desired product
"What is that?" "Why is she so excited?"
"That's not bad."
"Let me see the video."
"Wow, it looks sleek!"
"Aerial shooting is cool."
"Huh... it looks great. Maybe I need one too."
"I'll go with you to try it out."
"New product release!"
"He might be interested too."
"Reviews are great. I want one."
"The price is affordable."
"Let me check more details."
"I want to go to a physical store to see it. "
"There's a store here, let's go."
- "I want sugar-free drinks."
- "I'll try the Vita soymilk."
"Oh, we can buy 2 get 1 free."
"Shall we drink soymilk?"
"Chocolate milk is rich in fat."
"Fruit milk is a better choice."
"Good for you!"
Buy drinks with
"I want soda drinks!"
"Coca-cola or Coke Zero?"
"I don't want soymilk, I want the coke."
"Maybe I'll take Coke Zero.
"Chocolate milk looks good roo."
"How about fruit milk, seems less in fat and cheaper."
"I'll have the fruit milk!"
"Low calorie, lighter weight!"
Decide what to take
to new house
Wrap things up
"What should I take with me to my new house?"
Choose between two keyboards
"Should I take the lighter one or the wireless one?"
Evaluate rarely read books
"I seldom read these books."
"Maybe I should recycle them."
Consider selling used stuff
"I rarely use this heavy camera."
"iPad can take pics too."
"I'll sell it."
Throw out old shoes
"Let me try them on to see which is better."
"I'll take the cushioning one."
When people hesitate about their buying decisions, they turn to friends for advice through instant messaging applications. They want to know whether this shirt fits them well or that headphone looks sleek on their head. Some of them even have small groups made up of people with similar tastes to help make better decisions.
But it's not possible for one to always get instant replies before handing in the money. And that's the time we could step in.
"Help! I'm staring at the screen waiting."
There is an interesting meme on most social media platforms across China. It is called "在线等" in Chinese, which means "staring at the screen and waiting online".
People usually throw out a quite tough or tricky problem such as "I borrowed my daddy's watch and broke it, how should I tell him?" and add "Help! I'm staring at the screen waiting".
Image source: memeshappen.com
"We want to create a virtual community based on a real-time interactive app to help people make better decisions when shopping."
Familiar with mobile app
Active on social media
Cares about appearance
Value other's advice
Product Key Features
Easy to use
Simple "this or that" format
We did four rounds of participatory workshops to let the target users discover problems and possibilities for us. The overall feedback was quite positive, but our participants asked us three major questions:
How do I make sure that most "voters" are with the same taste as mine?
Can I delete my post after I get the answer?
What information will be put in "Trends" column?
To answer these questions, first, we added a tagging system to enable users to tag themselves. Second, we allow users to delete the post after they get the answer. Third, we split the "Trend" column into "Trend" and "Ranking" columns. In "Trend" column, there are fashion news and trendy items. In "Ranking" column, users will see the most popular questions with the highest votes in the day. Meanwhile, splash screens were added to help users understand the core functions of the app.
We conducted three rounds of usability testings in total. Each time we made some refinements according to the feedback given by users.
Most of the users love the idea of the app and understand most of the features well. Nonetheless, there are moments of confusion and uncertainty documented below.
Scenario & Storyboarding
"Dcidr" promises greater potential than being an app. It can be an add-on for most instant messaging apps or even online shopping apps.
To attract more people to use it, we can invite Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) from fashion-related industries as part of our influencer marketing strategies.
The ideal business model for this app is to grow the user base to attract brands to launch promotion campaigns on this platform, which would allow us to move from online to offline, or even further.