Intelligence, technology and digital culture: FutureEverything 2016

Future everything

We’re always keeping an eye on current and future trends so when we heard the FutureEverything festival was in town we just had to go.

“The FutureEverything festival brings people together to discover, share and experience new ideas for the future” exploring the meeting point between technology, digital culture, society, art and music in the digital era. It has been named by The Guardian as one of the ten best festival ideas in the world and although the expectations were very high, we didn’t leave disappointed at all.

Intelligence in the digital era

The theme of the morning was intelligence in the digital era. How are technology and artificial intelligence changing our brain? With the huge amount of data and information now available, how do we make sense of it? How we can use this information to make better decisions?

The first speaker of the morning was Nelly Ben Haroun (head of experience at WeTransfer, Wired fella, creator of ISO, international space orchestra and designer of experience at SETI), a french ball of energy that built her career around the ultimate goal to transform ideas into projects that engage all kinds of audiences and transform the impossible into the possible.

She has been defined a ‘social sculptor’ and a ‘fusion between Andy Warhol and Albert Einstein’. She transforms ideas into experiences with the ultimate aim to engage people. She designs in terms of scope, scale and method of engagement, exploiting art, design, music and architecture.

During her speech she celebrated the critical design approach as the way for creating innovative products and for turning over preconceptions about the role that products play in everyday life. “Critical Design uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life. It is more of an attitude than anything else, a position rather than a method. There are many people doing this who have never heard of the term critical design and who have their own way of describing what they do. Naming it Critical Design is simply a useful way of making this activity more visible and subject to discussion and debate.” Dunno and Raby

In other words: “Think outside the box”.

How are smart tools changing our brain?

This was another big question debated during the conference.

Let’s think about our memory. It has changed a lot with the advent of technology, smartphones and the internet. How many phone numbers do you remember by heart? Can you even remember your own mobile number? Now, think back to 10 years ago, how many could you recall simply by memory? Could you remember your close friends and family but now you wouldn’t know their numbers? You’re not alone.

Our memory is changing: “Relying on digital storage is changing our memories: increasingly we recall how to find information, and forget the specifics.” claimed Lydia Nicholas, the second speaker of the day, researcher anthropologist at Nesta. So our brains are changing to focus on information retrieval, not on the information itself.

Human brain
The plasticity of the human brain allows it to change throughout life and the digital environment in which we are living is affecting it all the time.

She claimed that: “We create tools but those tools re-create us as people.”

The longer term impact of smart tools and technology on our lives raises a lot of further questions that are difficult to answer: Who has the responsibility for it?  Is the interpretation of big data biased, limited or discriminating? How are new technologies impacting our human rights?

What emerged from all the experiences shared during the conference is that we are humans creating tools for humans and this is an undeniable aspect to consider in the design process of a digital product. “Thinking outside the box” still means to design for an audience and with that audience in mind.

The talks emphasised the importance of knowing “The audience” for whom you are creating a product and the importance of engaging with them during the design process not taking anything for granted at any steps of the creation process.

Other posts you may find interesting:

A cash-less future? Insights from MoneyConf

What is User Testing?

Mobile UX Research Testing

User testing, aka usability testing, user research, UX testing… everyone’s talking about it, all the best companies are doing it, but what exactly is user testing? And why are your peers banging on about it so much?

Why is user testing important?

Because it will save you A LOT of money, make your projects more successful and make you look good for all those new customers you’ll convert at the end of it.

Increase your sales

Whether you’re responsible for e-commerce sales, online conversion or sales of a product there’s a common factor for those that go through regular user testing. They’re more successful, they experience higher and faster growth and the business works better as a whole because everyone understands the user.

Save time and money

A common misconception of user testing is that it will lengthen your design and build process, however, there’s no need for this to be the case. It runs in parallel with other activities. The one way to guarantee adding time and having to increase budget and that’s by not including any user testing in your project. Imagine getting to the end, only to realise that you missed out a crucial piece of the user journey and you’re going to have to rework everything.

Fail fast and fail often

If your new project isn’t going to resonate with customers you want to know that as soon as possible so that you can adapt it and re-test it until you get it right. The sooner you get this insight the better! How soon? You should start at the concept stage and you don’t even need any tangible designs to get your first, most important user feedback. Test everything with your target users.

Improve what you’ve got

Whatever stage you’re currently at (wireframes, prototypes, procrastination…) user testing will always be enlightening to improve what you already have. Identify the main issues, the strengths and opportunities for further enhancement.

Consumer insights, intelligence and evidence

You’re building for an end user, a human being so why wouldn’t you actually observe their behaviour, listen to their feedback and question their expectations? The insights you’ll come away with will help you across your whole business and the changes you’ll need to convince your teams to make will be clearly evidenced by the testing. When conducted by experts, user testing is a methodology and a science that produces behavioural and psychological evidence of the changes that are necessary to meet your customers needs.

Mobile shopping ecommerce ux

When it comes to digital experiences, users are used to being able to do things quickly. If a website is difficult to use, people leave. In recent years we’ve seen big change in the customer mindset, they now expect things to be easy to use and they’re more aware of usability than ever before. Once upon a time people would blame themselves but now they are quick to blame a company for a poor experience with their website, app, software or product.

Usability is a necessary condition for survival and doing user testing is the solution to ensure your costumers with a positive and enjoyable user experience, which will in turn create more new and return customers.

What makes this harder for you is that people no longer read instruction guides and they’ll skip through your very helpful user interface overlays. We know, you put them there to be helpful, but we’re sorry to have to tell you that we see users skip these all the time. Then when they need the help they can’t find it!

There are many things to consider. You need to provide users with all information they need and to allow them to find it as quickly as possible. Most of them will not take the time to look through a website that is not usable. For this reason, ensuring your projects include user testing is a clever time and money saving activity your company would choose.

What is user testing?

User testing is an essential part of the UX design process. It typically consists of evaluating a product by researching it with your representative users (who we recruit). A product may be a physical product such as a kettle, a piece of software, an app, a website or other form of digital interface such as those found in retail stores. User testing when done best, takes the form of one-to-one interviews that are conducted face-to-face by a qualified UX researcher. This research method enables deep information to be gained about your users’ patterns of behaviour, preferences and opinions, in order to implement this feedback for a more successful product. Testing early during the design process allows you to prevent future re-design costs and to launch a user-friendly product. Testing doesn’t require a big sample of participants since the aim of the session is to gather qualitative data. Remote user testing tools are also available and are useful for backing up face-to-face with greater numbers, however they should not be used in isolation unless your budget really does constrict you.

Mobile Usability Testing

In the user testing session, a wide range of testing tools can be involved. Each testing session is tailored on your objectives and the best user research technique is chosen according to your needs.

User testing will generally be task oriented. Tasks will be created in advance and the user will be asked to complete them whilst being questioned by a researcher who will analyse and question their behaviour in real-time. A good researcher will pick up on UX issues as and when they happen, and pursue a relevant line of questioning.

A user test may also include activities to inform structure and navigation, such as card sorting. Typical measures of usability may also be included, such as the SUS rating scale – the official measure of user satisfaction. This is a questionnaire that the user completes to give an overall satisfaction score.

After the testing sessions, our expert will analyse the findings thoroughly and they will provide you with a full range of design solutions.

Are you ready to grow?

User testing gives you deep psychological and behavioural insights from users that will improve not just your user interfaces and products, but also your business as a whole. The more you understand your users, the stronger and more successful you’ll become.

If you’re curious about any of the above and how user testing will help you to create a more successful product, contact our user testing experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.

Other posts you may find interesting:

5 user tests every Product Manager should commission
What’s the real difference? Face-to-face versus Remote user testing

5 user tests every Product Manager should commission

User research

You’re very busy, in and out of meetings all day, managing projects and making decisions that will create a successful product. You’re managing expectations and dealing with multiple conflicting opinions from stakeholders, everyone has a different idea and vision – perhaps you rely on your gut instinct to make the final decision.

It’s great to have lots of ideas but how do you refine these to those that will really resonate with your users and be a huge success? How do you then build these into successful products? How do you validate ideas and evidence required changes? The answer is user testing.

1. Concept tests

The start of a project is the perfect time to begin research with your target users. Are you guilty of waiting until the build is complete before running your first user test? This is a very high risk strategy. We’ve been called into projects at the last minute to test before launch because concern sets in that perhaps the site/software/app actually isn’t all that great. The initial cost saving of not running any user research in the early stages is not worth it when you’re then faced with the overwhelming cost of redesign, development and additional time to launch, all resulting in potential lost sales.

2. SWOT competitor tests

Did you know you can run a full user test on all of your competitors? This enables you to understand their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your product from a user perspective. The biggest assumption you should avoid making is that they have a good UX. They may well do no user testing, they may not be very good at user testing, they may do it but not interpret and implement the required changes very well, you can’t assume they are better than you you need to find out for certain. You should also include your own site in competitor tests so you can discover how users compare you against them and where you are strong/weak in direct comparison.

3. Features and functionality tests

You have a long list of things you want in the UI. Your stakeholders have their own lists. You all disagree what should be in the UI and which features should take priority. How do you decide? What you need is a user test focussed on determining which functionality and features are important for the user. We use tools to determine what should be included, the priority of importance, user expectations of each feature, where it should be within the navigation structure and interface and much more.

4. Prototype tests

How much time do you spend sat in meetings debating what the UI should look like and where things should go? Forget it. It doesn’t matter what you think, you need to remember you are not your user. Ask your designers to mock up your early wireframes in a prototyping tool. This can then be tested with users. It’s quick, effective and provides you with the peace of mind that your design is progressing in the right direction. Of course, if users respond negatively to it, at least you’ve caught this at a very early stage where alternatives can be mocked up and tested easily.

5. Visual design tests

So you’ve been user testing at the early stages and everything’s gone well, there’s no need to test at the end is there? Wrong. You should always test after the visual design stage. Visual design forms part of the user experience and is crucial to get right. Poor readability, poor CTA contrast, copy, imagery and many other factors can all have a big influence on usability and conversion. Don’t invest in UX all the way up to this stage then blow it on the final hurdle.

What next?

The next step is simple. If you’re curious about any of the above and how user testing will help you to create a more successful product, contact our user testing experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.

Are fashion brands losing their identities online? A research study by Keep It Usable

Have you noticed how similar websites look these days? Cover up the logo and can you really tell one from the other? How effective and identifiable is their brand once you cover up the logo? Is their identity getting lost online?

Walk down the high street and each brand has a clearly identifiable shop front. They each have their own unique style. So why is it that these very distinguishable brands have websites that all look very similar?

Of course this could just be our opinion so we decided to put 11 female fashion brands to the test to see if their target consumers (young females aged 18-24 in this case) could correctly identify online websites with their brand (logos removed and provided separately). We used a mix of well known and lesser known brands, high street and online brands. We also tested both desktop and mobile versions.

Try it for yourself…

Have a look at the following brands (notice how similar a lot of these look already?)

fashion brands

Which brand do you think the following website belongs to?

Desktop Brand

To make it a little easier, we’ll give you a clue, it’s either Topshop or River Island. Here’s a photo of their high street shop fronts to help you even more.

River Island / Top Shop

If you think the answer is River Island we can understand why. The website looks more consistent with the high street River Island shop front doesn’t it. However, the correct answer is actually Topshop.

Did you find that difficult? Well, unsurprisingly, so did the people we interviewed. The Topshop logo was correctly matched to the website just 21% of the time (so only 1 in 5 attempted matches were correct).

“I don’t know why I don’t recognise Topshop, I’m confused.”

Everyone found matching the brands to the websites much more difficult than they anticipated (they thought it was going to be really easy) and they struggled to match the brand with the correct website, even if they were a regular shopper and therefore very familiar with the brand.

And the winner is… Very

Very was the winner of our online brand identity research, closely followed by Asos and Zara. Look at their websites and you’ll see why. They each have a very distinct look and feel, their brand identity is carried through the whole user interface through the font, use of colour, imagery used, layout and style.

Very website

Findings

Those brands with the lowest scores included Forever 21, Missguided, Miss Selfridge and Glamorous. Interestingly, three of these brands scored higher on mobile than desktop which could be a sign of their younger audience being very mobile heavy consumers.

The research confirmed the initial hypothesis that brand identity is being diluted online and that as far as consumers are concerned, the brands are easy to confuse with one another and are relying too heavily on their logo as their sole differentiator against their competitors.

An interesting association that we discovered was that participants viewed websites with similar layouts as selling cheaper and poorer quality products. The layout affected their impression about the quality and the uniqueness of the product sold.

For the target consumers of brands tested in this research, quality is one of the most important factors for making the decision to buy an item online. A poor and cheaply perceived layout or bad usability of the website can affect the impression of the product’s quality and undermine the overall image of the brand.

Brands that scored the more correct matches tended to have a stronger identity on desktop than mobile. The market predictions for 2016 forecast that mobile will play a bigger and bigger role in the e-commerce market and fashion brands should be aware that the income of mobile traffic will have a strong impact on their business.

Moreover, the 2016 trend in retail will be the omnichannel approach to shopping; that is a continuous and smooth shopping journey through different channels, online and offline. It is crucial that high street brands create a strong brand identity on all their digital platforms to create a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints. The aim will be to provide costumers with a frictionless, continuous shopping experience.

Discover even more insights in the presentation below and if you need to improve or test your fashion website in order to increase your conversion, we can help! Contact us

View on Slideshare

2016 insights every travel company needs to know

Keep It Usable UK Travel Research Report 2016

The UK travel consumer is changing every year. Keep It Usable’s independent research into the UK travel market provides insights into the current UK travel consumer and the opportunities that exist for travel companies to increase their success in 2016. Our research, conducted in the UK with 264 holidaymakers, aged 20-70 years old, helps you to better understand current and future UK travel consumers: which are their favourite destinations, how often they travel, who do they go with, how do they book, who are their preferred brands and what are the growing trends to watch out for in 2016.

The recession seems long forgotten, as over half (65%) of people now go on holiday abroad multiples times per year. Europe continues to be the most popular destination, followed by the USA. The most popular country that the UK travel consumer likes to visit is still Spain.

Travel in 2016

In 2016 we’ll see the continued rise of the solo traveller. A significant number of participants declared that they have travelled alone at least once in the last 12 months. The solo traveller trend is not just popular amongst the young traveller though, we also found the over 50s emerging as a key solo traveller segment.

Mobile

Mobile in travel eCommerceMobile is increasingly crucial for companies to get right. There’s a continuing increase in mobile use within the whole travel experience. From browsing, booking, through to using the mobile whilst on holiday, there is a need for digital marketers to engage the customer through every mobile part of the user journey.

Experiences

We’re seeing an increasing interest in experiences and a willingness to pay more for them. Travel companies will find themselves needing to move more towards selling experiences rather than continuing to focus primarily on price.  Driven by the use of social media and the fear of missing out, people are becoming more and more experience-hungry.

Google report

Google reports that travellers spend an average of 55 minutes to book a hotel and flights, visiting 17 websites and that they click four different search ads per travel search. 90% of these travellers use more than one device during the booking process. Our research confirmed this trend and highlights the importance of providing travellers with a pleasant and efficient online experience whilst they are booking their holidays, in order to increase the likelihood of your site being the one to convert the UK travel consumer.

Discover even more insights in the presentation below and if you are interested to know more about how to increase the conversion of your website, Contact us, we can help you!

View on Slideshare

KIU Insights: How people are shopping for Christmas 2015

It’s nearly Christmas! How are people shopping for the perfect gifts? We decided to chat to shoppers about their christmas shopping for 2015.  We were interested in understanding how people are shopping for Christmas; how they’re doing their research, organising their ideas and deciding where, when, what and how to buy. Are they shopping online or offline and why? So we spoke with christmas shoppers and here’s what they told us.

Christmas Shopper Profiles

The people we spoke with fell into one of three broad categories:

  • Offline (high street) christmas shoppers
  • Online christmas shoppers
  • Online-offline christmas shoppers

They are driven and inspired by different factors and christmas shopping is a completely different experience for each of them. Let’s look a bit more closely…

Offline christmas shoppers

These people love and enjoy the experience of shopping for Christmas! For them, it’s an opportunity to share time with friends and family. They love walking round the shops and markets, taking in the atmosphere and being inspired by the window displays. They enjoy window-shopping and they love the christmas spirit that is present in the high-street.

Online christmas shoppers

Online christmas shoppers are more time and gifts focused. They want to find the perfect gift for their friends and family and they see buying it online as easier and more efficient, in their eyes it saves them time and hassle. Moreover, most of the online christmas shoppers live farther from a city centre and don’t have easy access to a large variety of shops. In general, they aren’t big fans of shopping in the high-street and much less during the christmas holiday season. Online they can avoid the crowded shops and long waiting lines. Convenience is key.

Online-offline christmas shoppers

Fifty-fifty christmas shoppers do their christmas shopping both online and in the high street. They are price and gifts focused and they will follow the best deal, whether this is online or offline – they have no preference.

Have they started their christmas shopping? How is it going so far?

When do you think people start and finish their christmas shopping? Most of the christmas shoppers we spoke with had already started their christmas present shopping, and many had bought most of their gifts already. Most people had begun to look for gift ideas and inspiration at least two months ago, in October. Some had even finished all of their shopping by the end of November!

Super organised shoppers confessed that they bought their first presents at the end of July/beginning of August. If you really want the ‘wow effect’ they said you need to start early.

For personalised and unique gifts, people would rather buy gifts far ahead or online.

“Everything looks so similar in the high street during Christmas.”

Even the late shoppers seem to have a christmas shopping strategy. They started looking for ideas around mid November and now they clearly have in mind what they want, even if they haven’t yet bought the gifts.

Where do christmas shoppers find inspiration for their gifts?

For Christmas lovers nothing can ever replace shopping in the high street. They feel excited and can’t wait for the christmas season to start! They enjoy christmas shopping with their friends and family, for them it’s an enjoyable experience.

Christmas shopping with friends

They told us that they enjoy the atmosphere, the lights, the smell of mulled wine and cinnamon.

“Christmas shopping is fun, why would I stay at home on my own looking for presents online when I can do it with my friends?”

Those shoppers that love looking for christmas gifts in the high street, also seemed to be the ones without a clear idea of what to buy. They are driven by emotions and they look to be inspired by window displays. They describe christmas shopping as an ‘unmissable experience’ and they claim that it’s easier to find gift ideas in the high street than online.

“I love christmas markets! I haven’t decided what to buy yet, but I’m looking for something around… there are lots of christmas things.”

For the online christmas shoppers (particularly young people) their first port of call is Google to look for inspiration. Once they’ve decided what they want to buy, they search for the specific product on various shopping websites. Amazon and eBay are the most popular because of their good deals, short delivery times and competitive prices.

Shopping online also enables people to better ponder their choices, theirs is a more considered purchase.

“If you go into town you don’t have any guarantee you’ll find what you’re looking for, and it can be a waste of time.”

“I don’t want to spend money on presents that I don’t really want to buy.”

How do they choose the perfect gift online?

When browsing christmas gifts online, many people said they take screenshots of the products they might want to buy or take notes on their mobile about prices and details.

Others, simply open several tabs at the same time on their laptop, so they can easily compare products and prices.

“I just leave the product open on chrome, that’s how I remember what I’ve looked for before.”

They also explained that even if they haven’t decided whether to buy the product or not, they will add it to the basket of the website so that they can save the product and find it easily. In doing this, they have more time to think about it before before making the final decision. In effect, they’re using their basket as a shopping list to shortlist the things they like.

Reviews were also seen as a positive of shopping online. Reading other users comments and experiences helps shoppers to choose what to buy and what not to buy!

Sharing inspiration is also an activity carried out online. Social media is used for communicating and sharing gift ideas with friends and family.

“I send the link of the product to my sisters in messenger. We’re looking for a present for our mum, and through Facebook it’s easy to share our ideas with each other.”

The online shoppers said they don’t like packed, crowded and messy shops during christmas season. The chaos of the high street disorientates them and in the quietness of their home they can be more focused and more easily find the perfect gift for their friends and family.

…and the online-offline christmas shoppers?

For the online-offline christmas shoppers, the most important thing for them is finding the best deal!

They have a careful and methodical strategy. They move fluidly from searching presents online and in the high street, they compare prices both online and in store, they already have in mind most of the gifts they want to buy, but they are also open to appealing offers. These are our classic showroomers.

In a way, the online-offline shoppers summarise what all christmas shoppers have in common:  they are all driven (some more than others) by price and convenience.

All of our shoppers said that price is very important; for some it is crucial, for others it is important but not that important that it prevents them from christmas shopping in the high street. Planning and budgeting is important. In this regard, lists are used to organise, control and manage christmas expenses.

“I plan what to buy, otherwise I’d spend a lot”

“I have a list of people, presents and prices…so I can control what I’ve spent so far”

Showrooming: The future of Christmas shopping

Our research supports that christmas shopping is moving in the direction of exploiting online and in-store shopping.

“Showrooming” appears to be the new way of shopping, not just at Christmas.

Using their mobile phones while shopping in high street shops, browsing and comparing products in store and online at the same time is an effective strategy to find the best price whilst directly experiencing the product and enjoying the christmas atmosphere that only shopping with friends in the high-street can bring without any stress or anxiety.

The shopping experience is becoming a more rounded experience, moving across offline and online spaces as determined by context and need. Our mobiles are now an extension of our shopping experience and it will be the responsibility of retailers offer their costumers a pleasant and enjoyable Christmas experience, that supports customers whether they’re shopping in-store, online or both.

If you want to know more about Showrooming and how to improve your costumer experience on mobile, read our post Mobile shopping to soar this Christmas

Karen Millen’s Black Friday UX Faux-pas

It’s Black Friday, you wake up, grab your mobile by your bed and have a quick look at your favourite sites to see if there are any bargains to be had before christmas. Going round the shops is for losers, you’re going to be the first one to get the bargains and all in the comfort of your own bed before you’ve even started work. Win!

One of your favourite stores is Karen Millen and you’re excited to see they’ve joined in with Black Friday. It’s promoted on the Home page, however, you nearly missed it because it doesn’t have the usual Black Friday branding and looks just like a normal ad. But you spotted it and that’s what counts.

karen millen black friday

You eagerly click on the ‘Shop now’ text (you do this carefully because it’s very small on your mobile) and land on a page full of items. The large ‘25% off’ text on each item immediately grabs your attention. Fantastic! 25% off!

karen_millen_uxAt first you’re confused. It appears there are are only two jumpers in the Black Friday sale so you go to press the back button but you happen to catch the screen with your finger and the page scrolls slightly. You notice there are actually more items hiding further down the page!

You see a jumper you like so you look at the price and it says £75.00. You look back at the 25% off text and wonder if that means the price is already discounted or not…. There’s no other price on the item (you’re used to seeing a before and after price) and the price isn’t in a different colour so it looks like it might still be the full price. Is it really in the sale?

Hmm… you decide to click on it to have a closer look at the jumper and to see if there’s any sign of a sale price on the next screen. Maybe they just missed it off the previous page. But now it looks worse… the 25% off text has now gone completely and there’s just the one price of £75.00. It doesn’t look like it’s in the sale at all.

karen_millen_black_friday

You’re confused. You like the jumper but don’t know if it’s reduced or not. Is is reduced? Is the £75.00 the reduced price or the full price? You don’t want to risk it so you leave and go to River Island instead.

river_island_home_black_friday

Aha! That’s more like it! River Island screams the magic words 50% OFF as soon as you land on their home page. It doesn’t actually say if it’s a Black Friday sale but who cares, it’s a whopping 50% off and that’s good enough for you!

river_island_black_fridayYou eagerly press to see the items in the sale and land on a page full of cool stuff to wear. It’s really clear to you that these are all sale items because you can see the original prices which are crossed out and replaced with new prices that are also red so you know they’re in the sale. Whoop! Let’s get sales shopping!

Keep It Usable.

Black Friday: Consumer psychology of grabbing a bargain

This year, online sales over the 24-hour Black Friday period are expected to surpass £1bn for the first time in UK history (last year they were £810m). £3.5bn in sales are expected over the whole weekend. For retailers, Black Friday is a huge sales opportunity but also creates pressure to keep up with the Joneses and discount items to an uncomfortable level. Combine this with the instore chaos we saw in the UK last year and it’s a pretty crazy time!

For Americans, Black Friday symbolises the start of the Christmas holiday shopping season. They take the Friday after Thanksgiving off from work, taking advantage of the long weekend to start their Christmas shopping.

Although Black Friday is still not very popular in Europe, in the UK it has very quickly become the biggest shopping day of the year, even beating Boxing Day.

The figures speak for themselves…

In 2014, UK consumers spent £810m online on Black Friday and they are expected to spend even more this year. According to IMRG & Experian, online sales will reach £1.07bn. If that prediction is correct, online sales will reach a record in the UK’s online retailing history, exceeding for the first time £1bn in just 24 hours.

The Centre for Retail Research estimates that in total (combining online and in store shopping) British people will spend £1.39Bn in just one day, this is 32% more than the previous year.

Black Friday Sales

Telegraph, 23 November 2015. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/black-friday/12009461/Black-Friday-2015-the-best-bargains-and-deals-when-and-where.html

Who are Black Friday Shoppers?

First of all, let’s understand who are Black Friday typical shoppers: (IMRG 21 October 2015, http://www.imrg.org/-1bn-to-be-spent-by-uk-online-shoppers-this-black-friday)

  • Typically families with children
  • Aged between 35-55
  • Living in suburban or residential locations; they don’t have easy access to shops
  • Facebook users
  • Regular consumers of content on mobile devices

Compare this with Boxing Day shoppers who are more likely to be younger and live in urban city centres.

Their demographic profile has important implications for retailers. For example, considering that the most Black Friday shoppers don’t live in the city centre and don’t have easy access to shops, attention should be put in to planning and optimising the delivery service or in communicating details about deals, coupons, opening times, etc, through social media, to enable costumers to plan and organise their shopping.

How are Black Friday customers shopping?

(Simpson L., Taylor L., O’Rourke K. and Shaw K. (2011). An Analysis of Consumer Behaviour on Black Friday, American International Journal of Contemporary Research, Vol. 1 No.1)

  • They already have a specific product in mind
  • They buy particularly electronic media items
  • More willing to buy gift items rather then items for themselves

This year, consumers will be even more aware about the convenience of buying on Black Friday and shops will be even more crowded than last year, lines outside will be longer and tension will grow faster among the more competitive ones.

Last year, Black Friday was definitely a success, but retailers weren’t ready to deal with, quite frankly, the chaos that ensued amongst consumers, to the point that some of them have decided not to take part again this year. One of the most surprising retailers not taking part this year is American owned Asda, who will instead offer discounts spread across November and December.

Daily Mail, 28 November 2014, Manchester.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2852585/Mayhem-Black-Friday-begins-Shoppers-clash-supermarkets-trying-grab-bargains-Boots-Game-Curry-s-PC-world-websites-crash-thousands-start-hunt-Christmas-deals.html

Copyright LUKE MACGREGOR

Why is Black Friday more aggressive than other UK sales days

Last year, the situation got so chaotic that Telegraph renamed the day as “The Black and Blue Friday”. People queued in the cold outside shops for hours, then running and fighting their way to the product they wanted. But it’s not like this on Boxing Day or any other sale day in the UK…

So, what’s transformed the decent and respectable UK shopper into a merciless shopping, fighting machine?  Frustration can be a reasonable answer.

A lot of psychologists tried to find explanations and causes of aggressive behaviours and the Frustration-Aggression Theory (Dollard, Neal, Miller, at al. 1939; Berkowitz, 1969) is one of the hypothesis proposed to explain the phenomenon. The authors support the idea that when people perceive that they are being prevented from achieving a goal, their frustration is likely to turn to aggression and violence. The closer you get to a goal, the greater the excitement and expectation and consequently the more frustrated you get by being stopped.

The theory doesn’t suggest that frustration always lead to aggression, but in some particular circumstances can boost aggressive behaviours.

Black Friday might be one of those above mentioned circumstances.

Sales psychology: Why sales drive shoppers

Psychologists say that the allure of a bargain speaks to our human nature. Limited-time offers and last chance buys trigger the fear of scarcity and Fear of loss that drive us to buy. It makes us buy things we don’t really need, simply because we might not have the opportunity to buy them so cheaply again. IT’s how you end up with boxes of shoes in the cupboard that you never wear but you thought were an absolute bargain at the time you bought them with 70% off!

“People truly want to get a good deal, and so they might be less rational… when they can look in the environment and find different cues that make them think they’re getting a good deal, the decision-making is emotional” Kenneth Manning, professor at Colorado State University.

Did you know that sales drive our competitive spirit? We want to tell other about the great deal we got and we hope ours was better than theirs (even if we didn’t really need the item in the first place!). People treat it as a personal accomplishment to boast about.

Sales also have a positive affect our brain chemistry. In 2007, Stanford researchers discovered that when subjects shopping for clothes saw a sale price, the brain’s pleasure centre lit up. Sales, in other words, make us happy.

The sales environment also triggers consumers to part with their cash: “We are classically conditioned to hear this music, see these lights, even the experience of the shorter days and associate it with spending and shopping,” says Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist

So, be ready, 2015 Black Friday is just around the corner (27th November) and we hope and wish will be a good one, for both shoppers and retailers!

Starbucks in Italy? An Italian customer experience perspective

Italian Starbucks

Starbucks is coming to Italy in February. You might think this isn’t a big deal but for the Italian market it really is! Italian’s are precious about their coffee and their drinking habits differ greatly to those of the US and UK. The whole customer experience is different, which is why the opening of Starbucks in Italy is so controversial…

First of all, it’s interesting to know that Starbucks has an ancient bond with Italy; originally, Starbucks sold only coffee beans, but after a journey to Italy, the owner had the idea to recreate and export “caffetteria-style shops”.

Italian coffee drinking behaviour

From an Italian point of view (Yes, I’m Italian), coffee is not just a drink: it’s a ritual, a chit chat with the barista, it’s the best end after a good meal, it’s the perfect “good morning”, it’s a pleasant and quick break, but above all, it has to be short, black, bitter and served in a small ceramic cup (very hot).

Typically, an Italian will enter the coffee shop, simply ask for a coffee (which is an espresso – this is the standard drink), stand up at the counter, drink the coffee which takes just a few minutes, then leave.

You can see that both the drink and the behaviour differ a lot from the typical Starbucks experience.

In this scenario, will Italian consumers appreciate Starbucks Americano, Latte or Frapuccino? Will they buy coffee served in the famous cardboard cup? How will they reply to the renowned question “stay in or takeaway”?

In Naples, the south of Italy, the “coffee ritual” is even stronger than in the north. There’s a popular tradition called “caffè sospeso”, literally translated as “pending coffee”. It’s rooted into the Naples’ working-class culture, and basically consists of having an espresso but paying for two, leaving one on the counter, ready for the next costumer, as a symbol of good luck and an act of “charity”.

Will the Italian consumers pay for a “frappucino sospeso” or a “pending latte”? What will happen?


Image taken from “La banda degli onesti”. Totò, a famous Italian comedian and actor, drinking a coffee at the counter.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper wrote: “We thought we had everything in Italy, but it turns out we lacked one thing: American coffee”.

Coffee for Italians is part of their culture, their behaviour, a national identity and habit; and Starbucks knows it. Even more important, Starbucks have had to really know Italian customers before making the decision to open a branch in Italy. It’s no coincidence that the first Italian Starbucks will open in Milan, the most international city in Italy, heart of Italian business, fashion and a highly multicultural centre.

What are the opportunities and potential barriers of having Starbucks in Italy?

The opportunities

  • The company announced that they will promote Starbucks as a place for business meetings as well as a cozy spot where to relax; an intimate coffee shop in the heart of the business area of Milan, where you can work or sip a coffee with friends.
  • Free WIFI will be the main attraction for Italian customers. There aren’t many places in Milan where you can find free and fast WIFI.
  • A hi-tech + coffee formula. Technology will be the key differentiator for Italian Starbucks. Along with free WIFI, customers will have access to a “Starbucks digital network” streaming movies and tv shows.

Potential barriers

  • Deeply rooted coffee culture. Italian customers have a strong bond with their habits, particularly when it comes to coffee and food.
  • There are thousands of coffee shops, bars and ‘caffetterias’ in Milan where you can enjoy a high quality espresso with a snack (biscuits or a pastry) and where you can simply read a newspaper with a good cappuccino.
  • Starbucks is expensive compared to the Italian coffee prices. In Italy, one espresso costs 1€ or even less.
  • For most of the time, “having a coffee” for Italians, means having a quick break, standing up at the counter. Particularly in the afternoon or after lunch. It is not the long sit down break that is common in other countries.
  • It is not common for Italian business consumers to sit in a coffee shop and work on the laptop or meet in a public space.


A traditional bar-caffetteria in Milan – Bar Zucca. People drinking a coffee at the counter.

The “Starbucks Italian situation” is a great example of the importance of how understanding customers is crucial in order to offer an efficient and successful product.

Moving into the Italian market is a huge risk for Starbucks, however by first opening in Milan, they will be able to take advantage of the large tourist market. It is the least risky option for them and a gentle step into the Italian market to test their acceptance of the longer coffee drinking customer experience.

If you need to understand or test in other markets, we can help. Get in touch with Keep It Usable >

WINNER Keep It Usable: Best online/digital business in the North West

We’re very proud to announce that we’ve won the WIBA award for best online/digital business in the North West! WIBA stands for women in business awards and representing Keep It Usable was our founder, Lisa Duddington.

Award wiba

“I’m incredibly proud of Keep It Usable and everything we continue to achieve.

Right from the beginning, huge brands were trusting us with their projects and it’s testament to our knowledge, passion and skill.
As for women in business and male dominated industries? I say go for it! Yes I’m often the only woman in a room full of techy guys but it doesn’t bother me one bit, my opinion is respected because I know what I’m talking about and being a woman brings the advantage of seeing things a bit differently, especially in terms of the customer.”

We are now a finalist in the national wiba awards which will be held next month.

The photo below shows all the North West winners. Congratulations and best of luck to everyone!