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Story: Atipong Amornwongpeeti
What are unmet needs?
Nowadays, it’s virtually impossible to find a person who does not know what ‘Post-it Notes’ are or has never seen a single wheeled suitcase in his or her life. This is because these products are such a common sight nowadays – so common, in fact, that we have already overlooked their innovativeness. However, back in time, people had to constantly pick up their bookmark notes that kept falling out and got lost or stoically hobble to the airport carrying their heavy suitcases. Such had been their plights they had resigned themselves to until sticky notes and pulling luggage were invented and eliminated these little problems that had been bugging them but had somehow never got fixed, forever cementing their place among popular essential products.
Therefore, an unmet need can be any need, however trivial or mundane they may be, that has not been fulfilled but, once satisfied, can help improve the living quality of the user.
The importance of unmet needs in the current world
Unmet needs are more crucial for businesses than ever in the world that is changing swiftly. At unprecedented rates, consumers are deluged with an influx of information that influences their choices of products and services. As a direct corollary, consumer needs become more and more complex, rendering quality and difference alone insufficient to protect a business amidst the current of change. To stay in business, what executives and designers need to consider is how to fulfill unmet needs that consumers are faced with on a daily basis, even the ones that the consumers themselves overlook.
In 2006, Nintendo was being pushed out of the game by formidable consoles released by its sworn enemies, namely PlayStation and Xbox, which boasted superior graphic capabilities and were gaining ground very quickly. Therefore, Nintendo started to probe into gamers’ unmet needs. It discovered that some of its target groups, including families, were concerned with health issues that could be caused by sitting and staring at the screen for a long period of time. Nintendo also learned that some players did not want to just sit there and play games, but were looking for something more interactive and engaging. With those findings, Nintendo, thus, invented Wii, a console which afforded gamers a more interactive experience in 3D environments. The controller, or Wii Remote, was also transformed from just a joystick into various objects, such as a sword, a tennis racket, and a bowling ball, to suit the environment of each game. This not only created new experiences for gamers, but also helped expand Nintendo’s market to include women, adults, and the elderly, who generally had no desire for games but were only looking for simple exercise routines at home. The inventive and unique gameplay successfully resuscitated Nintendo and catapulted it back into the game.
Another example is the world-renowned supermarket chain Tesco in South Korea, which operates under the name Home Plus. Like any business, its goal was to become the country’s number one chain; however, standing in its way was E-Mart, which had more stores across South Korea and ranked number one in sales. To beat its competitor without opening up more stores, Home Plus turned to customers’ unmet needs. It noted that because of their cramped and tiny residences, most South Koreans needed to take a trip to a supermarket very often; however, shopping time was not the luxury these workaholics had. Home Plus, thus, sought to address this problem and did what no other chain in the country had done before by bringing the supermarket to the consumers in the form of virtual store. These virtual shelves, which very much resembled the real thing in a supermarket, were installed in train and subway stations, allowing commuters to turn their waiting time into shopping time. Just using their mobile phone to scan the QR codes on the shelves, shoppers could buy products they needed right away, ready to be delivered to their door after work without having to brave the traffic to a supermarket or carry heavy bags home on public transport. The scheme gained immediate popularity among South Koreans and ramped up online sales by 130 percent, successfully outstripping E-Mart in the online sector.
How to discover unmet needs
The challenge of identifying unmet needs is that even consumers themselves often can’t quite put their fingers on these needs as well. The elusive nature of unmet needs means that traditional methods of trying to come up with a complete line-up in hope that one will hit the target or relying solely on questionnaires will not be as effective in understanding the problem from the consumer’s perspectives as field research. This goes hand in hand with design thinking, which encourages discussion with consumers and role-playing so as to identify persistent problems that have not been addressed or needs that have not been met.
Photo by Pujohn Das/ Space10
The shortage of resources…
The increased number of senior citizens…
The relocation of world’s economic centre…
Through archives and records of our actions, the evidence of our existence is embedded in the data. On the other hand, the data also influences how we see the world and resulting into our actions. A tweet by Lev Manovich, a media theorist, stated that, “19th century was defined by the novel, 20th century culture by the cinema, the culture of the 21st century will be defined by the interface.” This notion may become true to the extent. So could the interface such as data visualisation improve our understanding of the reality of the world? Could it be used as a tool for knowledge cultivation?
Story: Atipong Amornwongpeeti
Heard of a Zipcar? Own a Nokia phone? Chances are that at least a couple of products and services you have been in contact with bear the fingerprint of Chris Downs, a brilliant mind who trailed the blaze for service design. However, as the field has garnered more disciples, this pioneer, now a Principal at Method, has forsaken the foundation assumptions of service design he formulated in its early days for a new vision that gives a new role to insights and better suits the current landscape.
Story: Sommanassa Ngernsa-ard
Professor Andy Miah’s interest has expanded extensively beyond his degrees in Science, Bioethics and Medical Law to other topics that concern emerging technologies and human enhancement. Basically, he advocates the use of technology to enhance humans, individually and socially. His books, lectures and articles usually advocate people to ponder about future of humanity beyond the current context so as to design it without restricted boundaries. His project #media2012 inside the mega event such as Olympics, for example, was also targeted to enhance humans socially with the power of digital media and citizen journalism. This article will seek to provide an insight to those innovative ideas that are centred around humans.