Nokia wanted to find out what some of their emerging markets wanted from a mobile phone:
They asked people from Buduburam near Accra, Favela Jacarezihno in Rio de Janeiro and Dharavi in Mumbai to design their ideal future phone. Rather than use traditional focus groups they got people to sketch and design what their ideal phone might look like.
The results are amazing. You can click here to see the slideshow. Two interesting points.
The first is how the ideal mobile phone is so much more than a communication device to so many people. It ranged from a survival tool to a stress-coping device to an anti crime device. For Sam, an artist from Accra, his design (in the picture above) is an all-in-one device for high-profile businesspeople or celebrities. It includes a DVD player, mini-laptop, and cable TV, and lets users stay in touch with the world, especially when they are on the road or in a remote area with no electricity.
The second point is the way Nokia designed the research. As I have frequently noted about in my previous posts, I am not a fan of focus groups: They tend to ask the same old questions in the same old way to the same old people. I like to see research that helps people say what they want to say rather than what a moderator prompts them to say.
In this case the results speak for themselves: Every drawing tells a rich story that explains some facet of what these new customers want from a phone and how the company might better serve their needs. It’s the human aspect of this study which is so powerful. By getting people to sketch out their ideal phones, they found out about people’s identity, their community and heritage.This method of research is more akin to anthropolgy than traditional market research. Its not about collecting data, its about understanding what it feels like to be someone in a shanty town. Advertising people need to become business anthropologists and let go of this ritual of sitting people in a darkened room with strangers and bombarding them with questions. This results of this anthropological study will transform Nokia’, that is if Nokia’s product people have as much imagination as their researchers