User centered design can help make the perfect business cake!

If you’re in a successful business you probably think a lot about your future consumers.

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The best brands and large companies have something in common — they serve what I call “perfect cake”. This means the consideration and delivery of a whole consumer experience from start to finish. This is in contrast with some businesses who focus on a solitary layer — the product layer for example. Now, if we think about the future and changing trends in consumers, Baby Boomers were the target consumers in the olden days and a single layer of the cake might have been all it took, especially if that layer was combined with some transactional tactics like BOGO or 25% off. Nowadays, for a sustainable business, this is not the case. Times have changed and Millenials / Gen Z are set to be the largest group of consumers. these future consumers are a little different due to the fact that they expect and demand a perfect cake.

I use the cake analogy loosely, but it works when you think of your business as being a cake composed of essential ingredient including logical and emotional components. No longer is your product just the physical thing for someone to purchase it, it has to align with what they feel a complete experience should entail.

Your financial success relies on you selling cakes and having repeat consumers so you need to understand and deliver a complete experience. But, what makes a perfect cake?

1. Complete the taste

5 years ago if some layers of the cake tasted mediocre, that was ok — people would still eat the cake for the good portions, they knew that other bakeries also had imperfections in their cakes. In today’s culture, this is not the case, with many bakeries competing for the same pool of consumers and generations with different cake preferences there’s a necessity to deliver a complete experience — complete the consumer experience means making a perfect cake.

2.Mix the ingredients well

The right ingredients, correct quantities and baked to perfection, this manifests into your product solution, but as we know the consumer is shopping for the full experience and all ingredients need to work perfectly together and compliment each other, i.e. the communications working with the brand values and the expression of them in the design language of the product, all the way through to the desired experience with customer service. This means silos of thought that occur naturally in your company should be avoided at all costs to ensure the ingredients mix right and work to produce the right experience overall.

Another reason for mixing the ingredients well is that we know the consumer journey doesn’t have one starting point, your business has 360 degrees of doors — meaning a consumer will start their journey at any point, and your cake experience should taste great from any point. That might not mean flooding them with all the flavors at once, it can mean ensuring the right flavors are there at the right time — experience design.

3. Celebrate the ingredients

New trends for 2018 indicate that transparency is key and are being demanded. Tell the consumer what is in the cake, even show them the raw ingredients along with how and where they came from. Details about who made the cake and the impact of consuming the cake on the lives of the person that mixed the ingredients. On a basic level, we have seen this movement in food products where consumers are ever more conscious about nutrition, organic and sustainable food sources. This transparency is happening in the apparel world also with sources of manufacturing and workforce implications. Don’t hide your ingredients.

4. Express your deep flavors (values)

The best tasting cakes are from bakeries you love, bakers you might casually know, with sales associates that treat you in a way you want to be treated — generally sense that company aligns with the way you feel. Wait this has nothing to do with the cake. Wrong. This has everything to do with the cake. If you can make your cake to express these embedded deep flavors (feelings) in the mix, with a transparency that your consumer can see – you are on your way to making a completing the experience and thus a perfect cake.
These “deep flavors” or values get into the realms of what some call touchy- feely and scientifically we know an emotional connection is a lot stronger than a BOGO promotion in terms of loyalty and returning consumers. These feel like they are made in the heart, or sometimes we call them “gut decisions” but really they are made in the brain, in a part of the brain that feels — the limbic system, responsible for decision making. Things that make your company “feel” good are very powerful, often those feels are things that show alignment— supporting Autism, made in America, crafted locally with a sustainable workforce, better for the planet, etc. may be the deep flavors that your up and coming consumers are really fanatic about.

Need some holistic thinking for your business? — check out my website and maybe I can help you out http://www.jdbdesign.co

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