The local client had little knowledge of how to understand the needs and wishes of users, and they also had no experience with co-creation processes. Whenever a problem was discussed they tended to jump to solutions, which hindered looking for innovative solutions. Therefore, guiding them through the workshop required more efforts.
A Chinese kitchen appliance developer (GEMSide) noticed their current products are popular among the middle aged and elderly, but less appealing to the younger customers. They wanted to develop new products and services to serve the needs of young target group. Asked by GEMSide, together with a Dutch product design agency (OrangeCreatives) in China, I helped them to explore and capture insights into cooking experience of young food lovers in China. This project was conducted in Guangzhou, the largest city in South Central China.
Tailor made tools for both users and stakeholders
To make sure a smooth process from gaining insights from users, and to communicate the results to the stakeholders, typical contextual user research approaches were attuned to fit in with Chinese culture. For example, it’s a custom to keep humble manners in conversations in China. I designed tools to encourage people’s narratives by facilitating their sense of authority. An example is that we gave the participant a chef hat during the session when he needed to present. This chef hat was presented as a symbol - this person is the master of his own cooking experience, which not only encouraged the presenter but also attracted attentions of the rest informants. These tools moderated anticipated challenges and supported local participants in bringing out their own expertise.
Workshop with stakeholders
The final user research insights were shared with local designers and clients in a co-creation workshop. This project helped the stakeholders to learn more about how to make use of user insights and how multi-disciplinary stakeholders can contribute to design process.
Lessons learned from this study & challenges of doing generative user research in China were discussed in a paper that has been published at International Journal of Cultural and Creative Industry.
Commercial research project
Contextual user research // Co-creation