|Posted on November 27, 2017 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
This BBC article (Link below) on some of the science that goes into menu design includes a lot of insights drawn from Behavioral Economics and Visual Science. Interesting in its own right, and also because many of the concepts have the potential to be reapplied across hospitality and retail. For example, there is obvious reapplication for close analogies such as room service and bar menus. But also valuable insight for spas, and gyms, and of course general retail and shopper psychology, where several of these principles are already applied.
Many of the insights in the article are drawn from well known scientists, such as Brian Wansinkat Cornell and Charles Spence at Cambridge. There is also an interesting reference to embodied linguistic cognition, and how the shape words make in the mouth relate to meaning (think Ramachandrans Kiki-Baba experiments). As we'd expect, visual attention, framing and cognitive load appear to be important mechanisms,
I'm a bit sceptical about the use of color, as described. While color, and color contrast can certainly grab attention, I'm not convinced that a menu provides sufficient context to create the level of meaning suggested here. I suspect that would require either chromatures (color + texture) or at least some additional conceptual context (think about how differently red is perceived in the context of love versus war). Apart from that, a lot of useful and reapplicable insights.
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Full artical can be found here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/united-airlines-pr-disaster-some-insights-word-mouth-marketing-foley
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No matter how cool or useful our idea is, people won’t try it if they don’t understand it. And it is so much better if they understand it intuitively - if we have to explain what it is, we’ve probably already lost that Wow! moment - “Why Didn’t I Think of That?” is so much better than “What the *##* is That?”
Build It and They Will Come? However, while we need to be intuitive, innovation also needs to feel new. Of course, if the benefit is huge, a few early adopters may spread the word via world of mouth. But even then, the easier something is to understand, the faster an idea will travel. And as an innovator, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of ‘new’ at the expense of understandable, or to be so close to our innovation that we think it is bigger and more intuitive than it really is. By definition, examples of failed innovation are quite hard to find. But one example is the Segway. It has finally found its niche in law enforcement and tourism, but at least part of the reason this took so long is because the design was so unintuitive. Closer to my personal experience, Febreze’s Scent Stories was an ill-fated scent dispenser that operated so much like a CD player that Febreze had to create a FAQ to explain that it did not play music. Not intuitive to someone outside of the project team, and not successful.
So in this blog I’ll share some well established insights from psychology that can be reapplied to help us solve this new and intuitive dilemma, and help us to be surprising and obvious at the same time, whether our idea is huge, or just really cool.
1. Leverage the Prototype: Prototype Theory tells us that every category has a prototype, and that these are quickly and automatically recognized and understood. For example, when we say bird, an exemplar that looks like a robin is more likely to pop into our mind than a penguin. With a car, it is probably something that looks a bit like a Toyota Camry. This doesn’t mean that the Camry is necessarily the car we’d most like to own, but it is typical, and so we recognize it fluently, and with the minimum mental effort. So if we want an innovation to be intuitive, we need to know the prototype for our category, and design in enough cues that reference it so that people know what it is without our having to explain it. This doesn’t mean that we have to look like the prototype exactly, far from it. We can then add stuff to differentiate it, but having the right cues in place means people work out what it is for themselves. So whether we are designing an innovative electric or self driving car, a restaurant, or a retail environment, we may want to include cues that match the category archetype, even if they are not a technical necessity. If people ‘get it’ intuitively, it will increase trial, save marketing dollars, and probably reduce anxiety about new technology where appropriate.
2. Peak Shift. It’s more than OK to design an eagle rather than a robin. Peak shift is a concept from psychology that can help us do this. Instead of differentiating via addition, we take one or two core attributes from a prototype and exaggerate them. This is somewhat analogous to caricature, where for example, people will recognize a cartoon of Jay Leno with an enormous chin faster than a realistic photo of him. So with a car, we can make the wheels bigger, the hood longer, or the shape more streamlined. Our eagle is a Ferrari, or at least a Corvette, and is instantly recognized as an exaggerated car, or super car. Building peak shift into the design can automatically signal a premium entry into a category, whether it is automotive, fashion, electronics or consumer goods in general.
3. Trigger Analogy. Knowledge Representation, taken from Cognitive Psychology, tells us that humans try to understand something new by using analogy to tie it back to something they already know. People do this automatically, but we can help the process run smoothly if we leverage design and communication to steer people towards the most useful analogy. Analogy can be functional, as in the swipe function on the first I Pad which mirrored how we turned the page on a book, or conceptual, as in designing a retail process on a website that mirrors a more familiar bricks and mortar equivalent. Activate the right analogy, and people just ‘get it’. But triggering the wrong analogy can cause all sorts of problems. The previously mentioned ‘Scent Stories’ is a case in point, where the design drew too many analogies to a CD player.
4. Conceptual Blending. Some inventions are too breakthrough to have a prototype, or a simple 1:1 analogy they can be mapped onto. As an innovator, this is a really cool space to be working in, but it does pose the issue of trial. No matter how brilliant a new idea is, if people don’t understand it, they wont try it. Conceptual blending is one option to manage this. If I describe something as the “Rolls Royce” of jeans, an ‘off-road’ shoe, or even “Underarmour”, people automatically blend concepts, transfer meaning, and fluently understand the concept without a need for detailed explanation. This is incidentally a great way to drive innovation (what does an ‘off-road’ camera or computer look like, or the Rolls Royce of home appliances). But it is also a great way to communicate new to the world innovation, if we can find the right blends, and ones that align sufficiently to make intuitive sense to customers.
Authenticity. One thing that all of these approaches share is that they leverage what people already know, albeit in new ways. We trust ourselves more than virtually any other source of information. Teenagers often have to learn from their own mistakes, no matter how hard loving parents try to save them the trouble!. Likewise, even the biggest, most expensive advertising campaign can struggle with authenticity, because it is perceived as having a vested interest. Having an established, trusted brand obviously helps with this, and we can employ all sorts of social proof strategies such as celebrity endorsement or independent user rating to add authenticity, but it’s hard to beat the authenticity that comes with a shopper working out for themselves what a new innovation does, and how much they need it.