In the last few years, the user experience has come increasingly to the forefront of innovation and design thinking. Colloquially known as UX design, considering how the consumer interacts with a product or brand is a way of meeting tough to articulate needs beyond pure functionality.
Today’s more sophisticated consumers are proactively seeking out engaging, stimulating experiences that deliver emotional as well as functional benefits. Despite, or perhaps because of, economic uncertainty, consumers are responding by splurging on small, easy indulgences – still buying those Starbucks macchifrappuccinos, going to movies (arguably more often), etc. They desire more interactivity and stimulation, demanding more intense sensory experiences that delight all five senses. Thus, brands are searching for ways to make the mundane fun – “gamifying” tasks and feeding consumers’ desires for entertainment and the unexpected. Additionally, technology has led consumers to expect experiences that sync their online lives with their offline lives. Today’s consumers also want to exercise their freedom of choice in selecting from a wide variety of novel consumption experiences.
Coca-Cola’s Freestyle machine is a great example of a response to these consumer needs. It has a touch screen interface (interactive + technology), it offers a wide variety of options (unexpected + freedom of choice), it is entertaining and provides near instant gratification.
The reality is that brands can no longer compete on the basis of product and price alone, they must satisfy the increasingly inquisitive nature of consumers. Consumers now expect more than function, they want novel, compelling and stimulating experiences with products and brands. Personally, I can’t wait to see what other brands come up with.
Do you have any other examples? Where do you think experience design fits into the innovation process?
- Clay Maxwell (@bizinovationist)