Thursday, May 3, 2007

Project Learnings

I really feel that doing this project helped me understand customer experiences a little bit more, particularly the Strategic Experiential Modules (SEMs). In Bernd Schmitt’s article, “A Framework for Managing Customer Experiences,” he mentions the 5 Strategic Experiential Modules used to develop customer experiences toward a product/service: Sense, Feel, Think, Act, and Relate. I think this strategy was the framework that helped us decide what type of product to build for our target market. Working on this project really enabled us to apply those learnings in the real world toward real target segments. Since we were targeting couples who were newly cohabitating together, we wanted to first understand how they felt in general about their living rooms (our assigned room in the house). In terms of “Sense,” we said that our couples generally viewed the living room as an aesthetically pleasing place where there are always sounds of TV and music playing. They also tend to “Feel” at-home and secure in the living room because this is a place for them to be comfortable with each other. Moving on to “Think,” the living room for the young couple is actually a place not to think in. It’s a place for them to unwind after a long day at work. Similarly, our target couples tend to “Act” relaxing in this particular room. They also spend more time with each other here just hanging out and having fun. Lastly, for “Relate,” the living room is a place that emphasizes couple togetherness. It’s a place for intimateness, interaction, and general compromise between them. By using the SEM strategy, our group was able to narrow down on certain product ideas to address the couples’ need for fun and interaction in the living room.

Another concept that this project really helped me understand was the idea of creativity. As Michael Luchs mentioned, creative ideas are simply new combinations of existing elements. By actually applying Michael’s technique of Lateral Marketing, our group was able to create the ultimate new product for young couples’ living rooms. Through his lecture we learned how to think outside the box and pick a specific product in the living room first. Then, decide which lateral marketing technique to use. This was different than our traditional way of directly jumping to ideas for a final product. I felt that this working “backwards” aided us tremendously in the final product idea. We applied the “Combination” technique of Lateral Marketing to come up with our product. By adding more components onto the classic flat-screen TV- such as wireless capabilities, instant messaging, PDA features- we came up with the ultimate interactive device for young couples in their living rooms. Now couples would have a multi-functional product in their living rooms that enables them to have more fun with each other, yet have a practical communication function. In this sense, the product is creative in a way that is both “novel” and “useful”.

Lastly, I really enjoyed working with my team members. The really great thing was that our team was comprised of a very diverse group of people, coming from all sorts of backgrounds. This enabled us to use our different skillsets, ideas, and perceptions to come up with such a great product. Fortunately, our different cultures did not clash, and we were able to put each person’s strengths to their best potential. I also learned how to take different team member’s ideas into consideration. Even though we all came up with many very different ideas, I learned the true value of compromise. I really enjoyed getting to the final product because I learned so much along the way. Lastly, I feel like our instructor Professor Walls did a great job in aiding us toward the final product because he was very helpful and always giving us comments and suggestions. Furthermore, I feel that the milestones for each individual stage in our product were very helpful in keeping us on track and making sure we were consistently working on the project the entire semester.

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