This project contains different research methods, including field observation, quality and quantity research, interview, survey, user testing, experiment, case study and participant workshop study. (if you are here just to see MIMO Bank process you can jump to Phase 6 )
Haruki Murakami is a well-known Japanese author who had presented us with his famous quote “small happiness.” I start off the thesis with this quote and attempt to showcase the meaning of happiness in relation to millennials. An in-depth analysis of this research study, it is revealed that millennials are actually facing more stress and depression than the older generations. For coping with stress, most of the young generation choose shopping as the means to relieve stress.
To study how millennials perceive money and happiness, I conducted a workshop and made the participants play a board game designed by me. The game followed the following rules:
In order to move forward, the player needs to correctly answer a question. If they fail to do so, the player must give up one round to roll the dice. The winner will be the one who hits the last question/block first. When the player moves on to the next question/block, they will earn one point even if they fail to correctly answer the question for that round. If a player correctly answers a question, they will gain three points. During the game, you can get anything from the reward box (included bubble tea and fries) without giving out points just by tapping the given card onto the phone or they can choose not to get anything. The winner will receive a prize.
There were 8 participants in the workshop with an average age of 24 years, and 75% of the participants used their credit card to purchase prizes before starting to earn any points.
I used everything I learned from this workshop to design a 300-participant survey, and here are the results from the survey:
spend what they have earned
use their credit cards before earning
use retail therapy to relieve stress
regret unplanned spending
Linking the problem:
Dopamine can lead to addiction. This is because when people feel stressed, they tend to find something to distract themselves from reality, due to which they become involved in smoking cigarettes, shopping, drinking, gambling, sex, and other. Indulging in all these activities can lead to addiction. For breaking this addiction loop, an alternative, which is strong and effective as well as less time consuming, and maximizes sensory stimulation, needs to be adopted. Finding hobbies and experimenting with excitement on making a discovery can also help people to raise their dopamine levels and provide them with a chance to reduce the involvement in activities that can trigger addiction relapse.
Microtransaction holds a contradiction between transactions with currency and virtual payment, in that it reduces the sad feeling one gains from paying with cash and makes one unaware of how much money one has spent. Our perspective of money shifts and reshapes with the advancement of technology. Furthermore, the growth in the number of online shopping websites and web-embedded ads has significantly changed consumer behavior and increased the probability of people acquiring shopping addiction.
Overall, the direction of the potential design direction can be narrowed down with three key points:
Shopping nowadays is often perceived as a process of purchasing happiness. People are frequently overestimating the happiness to be gained from "retail therapy".
Based on my primary and secondary research and initial prototypes, I chose a few approaches for further refinements which will help promote more idea generation and present my research with tangible objects.
Impulsive shopping spreads socially. In several stores, I heard conversations between/among people suggesting that they saw a discount sign and had asked their friend/relative also to get one or influenced others to buy one as well.
The sale tag was red in color and displayed in a really obvious position like a bait such that, 75% of the people who walk by stop and check out the product and 85% out of them stay behind to check out the shoes.
I had a few casual conversations with people and most of them concurred that they are not just buying the item itself, but it is more like they are buying the feeling of “saving” and “discount.”
Retail stores within in a mall is always very noisy, but outside the store it feels as though the vast open space in the mall can absorb the noise and one is in a vacuum environment like the space and each store is like a planet.
Most of the stores implement sensory marketing and uses strong smell of fragrances, bright light, vivid color, and loud music inside their store to attract people.
A lot of young people hang out at the mall during this sale event
People generally fight for a seat to rest in
Sit Down & Breath:
Proper lighting and aroma were used to ease people’s impulsive shopping behavior. Moreover, I could notice there were a lot of people gathering in the seating area of the shopping mall. Designing a relaxing section in a mall near the bathroom area, putting blue light and the smell of Yokukansan medicine, and creating an “impulsive easing section” can help sell the mall as “a place for the customer to relax.”
Do you easily get the impulse to make a purchase? How about you shop for your friend and your friend shops for you? By shopping for others without carrying your own money, you can still enjoy the feeling of shopping without getting the urge to impulsively shop.
A little robot will keep tracking your monthly spending and make sure that you won’t have to face any issue due credit debt. It will be harsh to you if you exceed the monthly saving goal which will be set by you in the app like a gym trainer.
After the first rough working prototype for testing the usability of my design, and getting feedback from user testing, I started to plan my exhibition setup for TODO.
From the TODO exhibition, I was able to successfully obtain reviews from a lot of stakeholders. As with those working prototypes, I was able to get many participants to user test my products and acquire feedback from industry professional. (View the link of my exhibition informational panel.)
Trip to Japan:
After OFF Course, I did many experiments and conducted several observations to refine my ideas. During my trip to Japan, I found out that most of the sale sign in Japanese stores were in solid red colour, and in their bookstores, they have a section dedicated for sensory marketing strategy. Colour usage of flyer, lighting colour/brightness, and the colour of plates in their restaurant have been provide with a lot of attention.
Additionally, regarding the blue light effect, I noticed that the aircraft cabins (777-300ER for Air Canada AC001/AC002and EVA Air BR035/BR036) change the hue of the light to blue in a regular pattern after it takes off, during the flight, and before it lands. The airplane lights are designed to calm down the passengers or refresh their mood, since different colours have different effects on a person’s mood. From inducing deep sleep to waking the passenger up, lighting plays a significant role inside the aircraft cabin. The blue light acts as calm lighting to relax the passengers and also to ease their nervousness after the plane takes off.
I had conducted a semi-experiment for making essential oils for the OFF Course exhibition. However, I only managed to prepare an infused oil, but it did not spread the smell I expected it to. So, when I went back to Taiwan in December. In Taiwan, I visited an essential oils company and got some information on how to make essential oil from Chinese herbs with a special tool.
I have come across different hypotheses and scientific research on how stores manipulate customers with sensory marketing by triggering the impulse to shop, psychologically or biologically. Then, I did a little experiment by tracking my friends’ heart rates while they were shopping.
One of the participants was a friend of mine who works at an advertising company; she volunteered as she was also interested in getting a better understanding of sensory marketing, and she admitted that she is a serious impulsive shopper. I measured her heart rate near Eaton Centre’s south entrance before actually starting to shop, and it was around 96 bpm.
With the insights I acquired from Japanese malls, I realized that stores in Toronto also use red as the primary colour for a lot of their sale signs.
Here are some of the refined ideas I attained after the OFF Course exhibition, which I participated in parallelly with my experiments and research work: A sale sign filter that can screen out red sale tags. Taking the idea from Set Down & Breath, I transformed my idea into a mask that people can wear on their face. A wearable shopping bag that turns your friend into an annoying shopping bag.
Buynary still need some sort of system to support with not only how the user can obtain it, but a more structural system to entice more user to join
The wearable shopping bag is not as functional as physically; there is a need for some mechanism embedded and a more structural system.
During this phase, I started to work on the final prototype for my graduation exhibition and thesis presentation. I explored technology that can help better express my design idea as well as pop-up bank design idea in order to bring the idea of MIMO to life.
The final product has narrowed down the direction on the map. Users will be provided with a start kit while purchasing with MIMO that contains the debit card, Buynary (works with the MIMO app), and a wearable shopping bag. Then, users can use the MIMO App and MIMO website to download the plug-in that can manage online-shopping impulsiveness and manage their accounts. Another self-helping wearable idea came from Sit Down & Breath chair, so I basically broke it down and turned it into wearable concept. Users can wear my product around.
Scent mask was the improved version of the diffuser of the Sit Down & Breath chair. I used the essential oils I made during the last phase and embed them into the recyclable scent paper. I reused the directions I received from my instructor at the beginning of the thesis year.
The wallet lock used a Bluetooth shield that can connect to a servo motor in order to interact with the MIMOLOCK app.
The MIMO machine was a decoration robot that I made for my graduation exhibition setup. The machine contained an mp3 shield and responded to a remote.
The MIMO hat used touch sensor that can be triggered just by touching the surface of the light holder.
The sale sign glasses were made using a 3D model and were 3D printed. It was tested by users around the mall and was able to filter out most of the sale signs within Eaton Centre and all the sale signs in The Bay. The final product list has been presented below:
The MIMO pop-up bank was showcased in the OCAD University Graduation Exhibition for five days. It showcased all the MIMO products, and the audiences were allowed to interact with each functional prototype. MIMO Bank also received the Industrial Design Medal Award from OCAD University.
The exhibition was designed into a real experience for the audience to explore the banking feature, with a MIMO bank teller to guide them through the details. The audience could also get their name customized on MIMO debit cards as a little take-away gift.