How the Kano Model Tells Us New York’s Ban on Large Sodas Won’t Work

Date: June 28, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on How the Kano Model Tells Us New York’s Ban on Large Sodas Won’t Work

As researchers, we don’t like to just make a knee-jerk prediction that something is going to fail. After all, that’s what research is for. To determine attitudes toward a particular idea or proposal, and see whether enough people support it to make it viable.

But we have enough experience and knowledge to be reasonably certain that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to eliminate soda sizes larger than 16 ounces is doomed to fail. And we can use the Kano Model, plus our own attitudes toward food, to figure it out. Let’s start with the Kano Model.

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5 Things Your Retail Customers Want You to Know

Date: May 17, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on 5 Things Your Retail Customers Want You to Know

Whether you own a restaurant, a retail store, or even just a gas station, your customers have certain expectations about you and what they want from you. Based on the research we have done for our retail customers, these are five common expectations that most customers share.

"Scan It" self-checkout kiosk at Gia...

  • It’s about the experience, not just the product. In this day and age, you can buy just about anything, sometimes even cheaper, on the Internet. But part of the reason people go to stores particularly local stores and specialty stores is to have the shopping experience. They want it to be clean, well-lit, and pleasant. If you can enhance the experience and give the customer a great feeling as they walk back out the door, your chances of return business grow exponentially.
  • Make it easy to buy. This isn’t limited to “we take Visa, MC, and American Express” it includes everything that touches the customer. From parking, getting in the door, shopping hours, and in-store organization, it has to be easy to fit an interaction with you into their lives. The hassle factor is a huge and it will keep customers out of your store.
  • There are many other options out there. Customers come to you for a reason. If the customer is in your door, they’ve already made at least a partial decision to shop with you. They could have gone somewhere else but chose your store instead. Welcome them and make them feel wanted. If you have a niche shop, then your expertise is valuable and will make customers want to come to you, not just because of products or price, but for the transfer of knowledge and help. But you have to make the experience enjoyable for the customer to learn. See our first point above.
  • Everything in the retail experience counts. If you own a retail store, and have the best and widest selection available. But a lot of your product are kept in the back of the store, the staff is subpar or unfriendly, customers have to navigate though messy aisles, then it will hamper customers’ motivation to come to you, no matter how good your selection is.
  • Customers are not alike. If you own a music shop you need to know that all musicians aren’t the same…a drummer is a different personality than a clarinet player, the rocker is different from the jazz musician. The customers know their own differentiating factors, and if you can learn those differences and adapt and cater to various types of customers, providing them a customized shopping based on their needs, you’ll certainly certainly be one step ahead of your competition..

Understand and follow these five basic customer expectations and you are well on the way to creating a loyal shopping experience where your customers will want to return again and again, and bring their friends.

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Is It Possible to Eliminate Psychogeographic Boundaries?

Date: March 15, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on Is It Possible to Eliminate Psychogeographic Boundaries?

Psychogeographic boundaries.

Not an everyday term, for sure, but it’s something we take part in practically every day even if we don’t know it. As a brief description, they are basically a physical location or defined area that a person’s emotional or attitudinal perception of affects or alters his behavior toward. Let’s look at an example…

Consider a big highway in a large city. You have the “inside” and the “outside” of the highway; “this” side and “that” side. One is downtown; one the suburbs. Often people in the suburbs will have an unexplained aversion to going inside a loop or highway, not because of busy traffic or road constructions, but because it’s not “where they go.”

English: Locke's idea of perception

It might be that it’s “downtown” or one is a “good” part of town and the other a “bad” part. So, it’s physical (the actual highway itself) as well as psychological (mental activity about what it means to cross that physical boundary or how they see it). It’s in most business’ or community’s best interest to first discover and then vet these boundaries to be able to change perception and draw traffic or build relationships. And it is very possible with communication, directed advertising, and physical changes.

While psychogeographic barriers can be difficult to accurately identify, knowing them allows a business to attract customers that would otherwise go somewhere else.

A great example of a psychogeographic boundary happens in churches or other religious or civic organizations. How many people do you see enter a sanctuary or meeting room and march right up to the front seats? Almost never. The front row, then is a major psychogeographic boundary. But why? They’re just chairs, right?

Let’s think of some possibilities…could it be that if a family’s or individual’s attendance isn’t regular or isn’t what they might perceive as “expected?” If they take that front row, the pastor or leader might notice their absence and pass judgment on their devotion or commitment. So they want to be able to “blend in” and enjoy a bit of invisibility to keep the image they want to project in tact. Maybe they run late quite a bit, maybe they don’t feel “worthy” of the front row because they see it as a position of importance. Again, there can be dozens of perceptions, some valid, some not so valid, but perception is reality.

So the leadership of the church or organization, if they want to break down these barriers, can easily address these attitudes, bring them out into the open and ease fears by speaking to the fact that we are all valuable and appreciated and there is no “important” and “unimportant” members, or that though participation your life will be enriched, but no judgment is passed if you’re not warming a seat every time the doors are open, whatever the view might be. Or maybe change the configuration if possible to eliminate one or two “front” areas and be more of a collaborative space.

As a business or organization, send out your feelers for the psychogeographic boundaries that might be coming in to play with your customers (or would-be customers) and members. Dig down into it and find those ways to blow misperceptions out of the water open communication.


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The Economic Benefits of Improving College Graduation Rates

Date: February 28, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on The Economic Benefits of Improving College Graduation Rates

We all hear the reports of 9% American unemployment. It’s a disheartening and continuing statistic and one that speaks to the heart of our economy, our educational system, and our social structure.

Interestingly enough, if you drill down into that statistic, there’s a nugget of information that can and should affect priorities of governments and communities as well as families and individuals. If you separate the unemployment numbers into those with college degrees and those without, the unemployment rate is more like 4.5 – 5% for people with college degrees and closer to 11 or 12% for those without, and even up to 14 – 16% for those without even a high school diploma, which gives us an aggregated total, then, of around 9%. So what are we getting at?

It’s a pretty well-known statistic that people with college degrees on average earn one million dollars more over the course of their lifetimes than non-degreed individuals. Even for those who do the same job, the one with the degree makes more.

So what we’re seeing is a movement in several cities in the United States to take steps to get those numbers measured and then increase the college graduation rates in their populations. It’s very much in the best interest of communities and governments to do this because of the impact on city or state revenues and overall attractiveness.

It’s all about business attraction.

All cities and states want to bring businesses into their communities, but companies most often need degreed knowledge workers. And if the college graduation rates are low, attractiveness suffers, and thus city and state revenue hover at levels below their potential.

Influx of business becomes a big win for a city because not only does the business itself pay taxes, which drives revenue, but employees with higher salaries pay higher taxes as well, unemployment reduces, and companies become contributors to the community, enhancing the social and economic development mechanisms of the city and state on the whole.

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The Importance of Measuring College Readiness

Date: February 21, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on The Importance of Measuring College Readiness

Businesses need people…that’s a given. And the more advanced, higher level positions demand an educated and skilled workforce. If a company is looking to relocate or add locations, it’s going to do some research, naturally.

If the positions being added require college degrees or advanced experience, then that company wants to know where the pickings will be ripe so they can be confident of being able to fill positions locally and not have to recruit from other cities, which adds expense and time to the hiring process.

So if the company is deciding among locations and your city has a lower percentage of college graduates in its workforce compared to other options, the company will often go elsewhere. You can’t blame them, but it makes it all the more important for communities and civic organizations to promote college readiness in high schools and encourage their citizens to finish degrees and get those diplomas.

One of the biggest fears concerning college, of course, is the expense. It seems so out of reach for so many people, but ICCHE (Index of Community Commitment to Higher Education) comes from an initiative developed by IQS Research that measures a community’s commitment to educating its population through to a bachelor’s degree.

The ICCHE includes programs that focus on high school students who will be going into college, as well as education directed toward parents and adults with existing college credit. It brings awareness about funding, loans, and sponsors, just about anything people need to know about starting or finishing a college degree.

We know that college educated people typically earn vast amounts more over the course of their lifetimes than those without. ICCHE and other programs can help drive graduate numbers up, and as the falling of dominoes, all the other important numbers for the city go up too—tax revenue, employment, and civic involvement, to name a few.

We just need to lay the foundation, bring awareness, and put incentives into place to motivate our citizens to take the risk for a potential great reward for their personal lives as well as the livelihood of their communities.

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