Inspirations from Analog in a Digital World


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Next generation product developers and marketers must not forget the rich experiences people receive from their “old gen” product relationships. Although homes are filling with digital possessions, people still crave the touch, smell and immersive experience they get from their analog predecessor.
“Given that so much in our lives in now available in digital form, MindSwarms wanted to explore those products and objects which people purposefully choose to keep non-digital. The idea was to help better understand consumer preferences when it comes to technology development,” says Ryan Brill, Senior Project Manager at MindSwarms.
The study uncovered that people resist the digital form of the things they value most in their lives. Beyond human relationships, those in the study provided a varied list of items that they hope will never become completely digital.

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Inspirations from Analog in a Digital World

  1. 1. The Case for Analog in a Digital World 8 implications for marketers and new product developers
  2. 2. Purpose MindSwarms wanted to consider what one thing in people’s lives, of all the things that could be digital, which people want to remain non-digital
  3. 3. Research Objective To understand people’s views on items they hope remain analog and why this form is important in their lives
  4. 4. Target Audience • National US sample • 16 states • 25 cities • Ages 19 - 45 • Even male/female ratio • Mix of ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds
  5. 5. What insights emerged?
  6. 6. Respondents acknowledged that digital relationships offer benefits, but human relationships still top the list of things that must remain non-digital
  7. 7. The importance of maintaining nondigital relationships “I think my husband and I could have a digital relationship. We communicate better through text than we do when we are face-to-face, but our relationship has to remain non-digital because we do have to have face-to-face communication and touching at some point!” - Laura, 36, AL !
  8. 8. The importance of maintaining nondigital relationships “There's something to be said about having an interaction with somebody in person, face-to-face, how you're touching them, feeling those emotions run through you when you see somebody in person and talk with them.” - Joshua 28, CA
  9. 9. The importance of maintaining nondigital relationships “Having a real human connection without machines when you need to call a company to take care of something is really important. We shouldn’t speak to our families with texting and we shouldn’t have to talk to a machine when we have a problem.” - Jessica, 33, TX
  10. 10. In addition to human interaction, people had many other things in their lives that they strongly prefer to keep non-digital because: • Some non-digital product experiences are richer and more inspiring than their digital forms • Older product forms often provide a link to the craftsmanship of the past • There is a comfort and security to doing things the “old, proven” way
  11. 11. Relationships with non-digital “treasures”
  12. 12. Although technology is usually positioned as interactive, many felt non-digital products offer a better multi-sensory experience • Many read digital books but still crave the touch, smell, and interactive experience that real books provide • The interaction offered by books and traditional board games was felt to offer a more immersive and educational experience • The enjoyment and inspiration from traditional wall art was also mentioned as a valued benefit versus the “art” from large, digital TVs that now fill walls
  13. 13. The multi-sensory experience from non-digital products “I like to be able to physically touch the pages of a book, move the pages, see how far I am in the chapter, look back on things, make notes, highlight and underline…” - Ashley, 29, NE
  14. 14. The multi-sensory experience from non-digital products “There’s nothing that can beat the feeling of a book in your hands. I also love the smell of a new book or even the smell of an old book. It’s wonderful. It smells like the history of the book.” - Antonio, 28, TX 8 !
  15. 15. The multi-sensory experience from non-digital products “I think board games should stay just the way they are. Especially games like Monopoly because it’s important for kids to learn how to deal with bills and make change. Also, when kids play those traditional board games, it teaches them social skills and good sportsmanship.“ - Damian, 24, VA
  16. 16. The multi-sensory experience from non-digital products “I'm sure that [robots] would provide some companionship for people, however, this is not the same thing that my pet has. She's got little idiosyncrasies, she greets me when I come home, she does silly things when she thinks I'm upset, she snuggles with me; I just don't see that being capable, being possible with a robot.” - Kissa, 38, AZ
  17. 17. For some, new tech cannot replace old craftsmanship • Digital cameras often described as “for work” while traditional film “for craft” • Previously non-digital products offer a nostalgia and quality that newer digital versions can’t replicate • Fear that the faster paced world which comes with digital products will take away from the experiences had in the past
  18. 18. For some, new tech cannot replace old craftsmanship “I do semi-professional photography and I use a digital camera for production work, things which have a deadline where someone is paying me, but for art there is in my opinion nothing as good as a film camera.” Matthew, 27, CA
  19. 19. For some, new tech cannot replace old craftsmanship “You can get a really high-end, high definition picture [with a digital camera], but that's not artistically what I'm always looking for. I like the representation of the way I used to see photographs and covers of magazines when I was growing up. There was an importance to that that I want to preserve.” - David, 41, FL
  20. 20. For some, new tech cannot replace old craftsmanship “I think it's important that we all don't get jumbled up in ‘everything needs to be quickly advancing’ and ‘everything needs to be brand new.’ I think there's great value in things that are decades old and things people use all the time. For me, the best example is my old record player.” - James, 25, PA
  21. 21. Non-digital experiences offer a level of comfort and security that doesn’t transfer to digital products • News of digital hacking and compromised online security seems to draw some people back to tangible security, like a traditional house key • Many find comfort in habits and experiences established with the “old” non-digital version of products or services like the paper calendar and faceto-face customer service
  22. 22. The comfort and security of nondigital experiences “I know there are options out there for unlocking your door using smartphones, but I do worry about how easy it is to intercept those unlocking codes, how easy it is to hack my device or hack my home lock. The keys have been around for a very long time. They are a well-established and proven technology.” - Richard, 45, CA
  23. 23. The comfort and security of nondigital experiences “There are tons of ways you can make an app to get your keys to unlock your door or your car, but what happens if your phone gets stolen? That person now has access to not only whatever records you keep on your phone, but also probably your house. Keys are something that are very tangible and I think need to stay tangible to protect our safety.” - Kendall, 20, WA
  24. 24. The comfort and security of nondigital experiences “I love writing things in my paper calendar. There's something about seeing it visually, being able to flip a page, visually counting the weeks. It just comforts me to know that I'm getting things accomplished and I have things coming up.” Jacqueline, 41, NY
  25. 25. The comfort and security of nondigital experiences “Just having a real human connection without machines at the grocery store or when you need to call Amazon or when you need to call someone to take care of something, just not dealing with a machine and having real human beings…” - Jessica, 33, TX
  26. 26. Digital products make life easier in many ways, but some fear the impact of an overly digital world
  27. 27. Fear of the impact of an overly digital world “So, it’s true the world is becoming digital with just about everything in our lives. When I look around my apartment to find something that either isn’t already digital, or has a possibility of being digital, it’s pretty hard to find.” - Gershon, 37, NY
  28. 28. Fear of the impact of an overly digital world “I think it's troubling or disconcerting that more and more we’re just communicating by the internet or digitally. I think we should have more face-to-face interaction than we have now.” - Brad, 41, NY
  29. 29. Everyone has at least one thing, usually something they treasure most, that they want to remain forever non-digital
  30. 30. Treasures to remain forever nondigital “I think there are a lot of things in life, like that sound of time passing from a ticking watch, that should remain non-digital” - Sarah, 40, CA
  31. 31. Conclusions & Implications People resist the idea of digital relationships and expressed great frustration with the “digitization” of customer service relationships When it comes to people’s passions, there is often a nostalgia and quality perception associated with the more labor-intensive products/processes of the past Consumers crave product experiences that involve the senses: the smell of a book, the look of an old vinyl record cover, and the act of crossing off days on a paper calendar There is a comfort and safety benefit that comes from the physical versus digital form of some products
  32. 32. Conclusions & Implications Companies must continue to balance efficiency with personalization to be perceived as a quality customer service provider Today’s product development teams must be aware of consumers’ evolving perceptions about what defines quality and cognizant that “new doesn’t always mean better” Digital products must continue to create bonds with consumers, even with the absence of some sense experiences available through the more traditional, non-digital versions Further, consumer trust in “virtual” security related products is still shaky and must be a considered messaging point in product communications
  33. 33. About MindSwarms MindSwarms gathers video feedback from consumers via smartphone/tablet (and webcam) all over the world. Fast. Consumers are screened first, then qualified respondents are invited to record their responses (asynchronously). Consumers are paid for participating. Responses to the study questions are viewable and shareable online, and can be downloaded in Quicktime format for inclusion in presentations or to create curated videos. Learn more at or
  34. 34. About MindSwarms Click here to watch the video.
  35. 35. Thank You
  36. 36. ! Photo Attribution ! Page 1 CC-licensed Flickr Photo Book 10 by ~Brenda-Starr~ ! Page 2 CC-licensed Flickr Photo Digital Bolex D16 on CineSkates by Cinetics ! Page 3 CC-licensed Flickr Photo Digital Producer by tonyhall ! Page 4 CC-licensed Flickr Photo 08.08.Independence.WDC.4jul05 by Elvert Barnes ! Page 5 CC-licensed Flickr Photo wooden booklet - opened by SNIJLAB ! Page 6 CC-licensed Flickr Photo Love project by certified su ! Page 10 CC-licensed Flickr Photo Books by Katherine Hodgson ! Page 11 CC-licensed Flickr Photo DSC05844 by bluebirdsandteapots ! Page 12 CC-licensed Flickr Photo Euphoria in board games is often at the expense of other players... by elPadawan CC-licensed Flickr Photo Little Blue Car by robnguyen01 ! Page 17 CC-licensed Flickr Photo Tschibo disposable camera film by Uwe Hermann ! Page 21 CC-licensed Flickr Photo We got the keys! by Bill Selak ! Page 25 CC-licensed Flickr Photo The digital world by serzhile ! Page 29 CC-licensed Flickr Photo Tick by Ivymike
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