Over the last years, Heineken has invested a lot inshowing their passion for design to strengthen the linkbetween the brand and design. In 2011, the „aluminumbottle‟ – being served in exclusive bars and clubs aroundthe globe – won a design prize during the Cannes Lions.In the same year, Heineken decided to go one stepfurther by kicking-off a global design project,connecting club goers and designers in thedevelopment of a visionary nightclub.The ultimate goal of this project was to design anddevelop a concept club that would enhance the wholenightlife experience.
Key to the idea was that the pop-up club should not be created by Heineken‟s in-house design team alone, but in co-creation with emerging design talent from the same age group as the current generation of clubbers. Therefore, „Open Design Explorations Edition 1: The Club‟ crowd-sourced young designers from four global designWhat to expect? capitals (New York, Tokyo, Milan and Sao Paulo) by inviting them to submit their portfolio via Heineken‟s Facebook page. Live portfolio presentation events in these four design cities resulted in the final selection and composition of the design team: 19 emerging product, graphic, fashion, interior and motion designers. Heineken‟s senior design team and a crew of established designers with fame functioned as coaches for the young talents.
So far, Heineken brought the ingredientstogether that would lead to a beautifullydesigned night club. The real question wasif all created concepts would be asrelevant to the clubbers. The project teamat Heineken understood that in order todevelop a relevant and impactful take onclub design, understanding the needsand wishes of clubbers today wouldbe crucial. That‟s the reason why, duringthe selection process of the youngdesigners, Heineken and InSitesConsulting were conducting a globalresearch project with club goers toprovide the design team with relevant andtrue consumer understanding, acting as abriefing, a source of inspiration and aspringboard for ideation
Engaging a group of young, trendy clubbers from all around the world to participate in research can be quitea challenge and although the club of the future is an inspirational topic, the selection and execution of theresearch methodology needs careful attention. We opted for an online research community (MROC) of threeweeks with 120 participants for various reasons:1 A longitudinal piece of online qualitative research was the way forward as it makes it possible to conduct a global project, in which clubbers need to be „followed‟ over a longer period of time, in a rather cost and time efficient way.2 The current generation of youngsters (Generation Y) are ‘digital natives’. The web is their second home. Talking to and working together with other people in the online space feels very natural to them. Next to that, the asynchronous connection in a community allows participants to join the online discussion on the time and location of their choice, perfectly fitting the lifestyle of today‟s younger generations.3 Today’s youngsters are used to being empowered by their parents and they start to expect that from brands as well. Our online research community connected the trendy clubbers with an aspirational brand and facilitated the co-creation of a night club, a place that is part of their daily life. We worked together with people who were interested to participate and who could inspire us with interesting stories: design-savvy youngsters, living in one of the 12 trendiest cities on the planet (10 citizens of each city), going to a club at least one time a week and being a non-rejecter of the beer category in general and Heineken in specific. The participants were recruited through a snowballing process, which started on Heineken‟s brand page on Facebook.
In order to keep the community participants engaged over the course ofthree weeks we took them on a journey (Schillewaert, De Ruyck, VanKesteren, Ludwig, 2010).In four different rooms on the community platform theycould share ‘their current clubbing experiences’ and ‘therole of clubbing in their routine’, ‘their view on the idealnightlife journey’ and ‘give feedback on the first sketches’ ofthe designers.The tasks presented to them were a mix of questions, writing reviews,keeping a (photo) diary and holding discussion battles. To develop aholistic view on the needs of clubbers, a movie metaphor was guiding theparticipants through the different weeks – from selecting the actors in theideal nightlife journey, to the scenery and the scenario for the perfectnight out.
The three-week dialogue with clubbers resulted inover 2,000 comments, providing a uniqueview on the meaning of clubbing in theirlives. In order to report the outcome towards thedesigners in the most impactful way - a reportthat they would actually read and use during thecreative process - we went beyond the traditionalways of reporting.The analysis of the discussionsresulted in the shaping of 28 key learnings,each linking a challenge for the designteam to the needs of their audience.„Service design thinking‟ inspired the integration The touch points where users interact with the service areof these learnings – spread over six touch often used in order to construct a journey – an engaging story based upon their experience. This story details there servicepoints – in a ‘consumer journey map‟: “A interactions and accompanying emotions in a highly accessible„customer journey map‟ provides a vivid but manner” (Stickdorn, Schneider 2011).structured visualization of a service user‟sexperience.
This „Nightlife Journey‟ was reported as an interactiveinfographic (available at http://nightlifejourney.com),not only accessible on desktops, but developed inHTML5 with specific attention to iPad usage. The appguides the designers through the six phases of anight out: from „pre-club drinks and meeting-up‟,„entering the club‟, „going for a drink‟, „dancing‟, „chilling‟to „going home‟ (figure 2), telling the designers aboutwhat the role was of a specific scene in the overall night,what the clubbers‟ expectations were in that specificmoment; and emphasizing the frictions clubbersencounter during their journey. To make the learningexperience as engaging as possible for the designers,the 28 key learnings were formulated as consumerquotes. Next to this, for each learning a design actionwas indicated under the actual insight.
The „consumer journey map’ was shared with the In this phase, designersdesigners during a club tour of nightlife hotspots received specialist coaching from famous senior designersin the design cities, taking their observations of the within their discipline. After theclubbing environment and social interaction beyond the immersion in the clubbing sceneobvious. The immersion in the clubbing scene, combined and the kick-off briefing,with the knowledge of the consumer learnings, inspired theteam to come up with consumer centered ideas that truly designers and coacheschallenged the current nightlife experience. joined the clubbers and the Heineken team on the online community platform, where they could spark ideas and share first sketches with each other (figure 3). In this way, the project took full advantage of the characteristics of the online community platform; providing a 24/7 connection to stakeholders from all over the world for a longer period of time, supporting true co-creation.
The end result: The concept club at the Milan design week
The interactive consumer journey map did not only The fashion designers transformed the staff andserve as a briefing and a source of inspiration, the dressed them in other-worldly outfits matching theresearch also proved to be crucial for the identity of the club and radiating positive energy. The hostssenior designers in making the final selection provide guests with a warm welcome, the waiters wander aroundof ideas to be part of the actual club. By instigating playful dares to get them out of their shells and whentaking the journey of clubbers as a starting point, it‟s time to move on, a friendly concierge guides clubbersthe Heineken Concept Club – showcased at the onwards, giving directions and arranging cabs home.Milan Design Week 2012 – successfully took thedesign critics by surprise. From the lay-out of theclub, based on the six phases of the consumerjourney map, to the shelves where clubbers canleave their drink while dancing, the wholeexperience is designed to provide relevant andimpactful answers to the needs of clubbers. Whilemost clubs currently focus on their entertainmentvalue, the clubbers in the community reminded thedesign team that going out is also abouthospitality: “To have a fun night out in the club, we really need to feel welcome. To start the night with a great vibe, I’m in need for a warm, fun and exciting atmosphere. The staff has an important role in making my night enjoyable!”
Tap a bottle-shaped icon on the interactive bar surface and pulsing, concentric circles attract the server’s attention and tell him that you have priority over the guy next to you. When your beer is served, the bar man taps the icon to explode it, showing that the order has been fulfilled. By connecting with emerging designers, taking inspiration from the nightlife journey of clubbers and approaching club design as the service of the ideal nightlife experience, Heinekenpushed the boundaries and unveiled a visionary pop-up club, housing nine consumerEven the simple act of ordering a beer has beencreatively deconstructed and carefully considered, relevant design concepts and productanticipating the need of clubbers to draw the attention innovations. The stimulating and progressiveof the bar man: environment was designed to trigger the senses of the audience and facilitate social interaction; it “I often feel like the bar man is proved to be an exceptionally welcoming, ignoring me while I obviously try to memorable and conversational night out. get his attention, I hate this!”
Evaluation of the pop-up club by Milan clubbersThe day after enjoying this new clubbing experience, visitors of the club during the Milan Design Weekwere invited for an online interview. Recruitment for this interview happened via Twitter and the databaseof people invited to the opening. We selected 24 club goers for the interviews: 16 males and eightfemales. At the core of the interview were three basic exercises: write a review, give the club a score, andselect and rank your favourite design objects that were showcased in the club.Overall, the club got a report figure of almost 9/10 and was seen as a surprising and innovativeaction of Heineken. Moreover, the concept club was perceived as a different and more entertainingexperience than in a regular club. Almost all reviews mentioned the link between Heineken as a brand and„design‟. The interactive bar and the friendliness of the club personnel were also mentioned a lotspontaneously.The Top 5 Design Concepts, according to the visitors, were: the interactive bar, the special editions ofthe award-winning „aluminium bottle‟ in which the beer was served, the staff‟s clothing, the exit and thetaxi service delivered by the concierge, next to the entrance of the club – which was giving the clubbersalready a glimpse of the vibes inside. The ideas behind all of these concepts were inspired by and shapedbased upon the consumer learnings we showcased in the „interactive journey map‟.
Evaluation of the project by the community participantsIn the post-community evaluationsurvey, the members gave theproject a score of 8/10. For them, itwas a pleasant experience thatmade them have impact on thefuture of a part of their life: going outand clubbing. They really appreciatethe fact that Heineken is a brand thatlistens to consumers. Also based ontheir qualitative feedback, we maystate that the project indirectlycreated 120 trendy and influentialbrand ambassadors for life.
Evaluation of the project by the designersIn-depth interviews with the 19 emerging designers Mark Van Itterson, Head of Global Design atemphasized the connection between the interactive Heineken, formulated it this way:infographic and the end result. At the beginning of mainly excitedtheir creative process they were “The community was our online hub, a kind of virtual creative lab. It was bridging all continentsabout their collaboration with Heineken and time zones, stimulating cross fertilization. Itand the goal of developing a visionary kept the creative juices flowing through newnightclub. The design briefs – based on the progress, new insights, new briefs”.phases and insights of the „customer journey map‟ –proved to be a critical success factor in structuring Heineken‟s „Open Design Explorations‟ also Mostthe process and facilitating the collaboration. changed how the emerging designers perceived the concepts of „co-creation‟ and „consumerdesigners perceived the community phase research‟. They are now convinced thatas the most valuable part, as the answers they consumer understanding is essential ingenerated to consumer needs in this initial phasewere key to the end result. The origami concept that their design process and is a majorarose here served as a red thread in the design source of inspiration.vision and was applied to all elements in the club.
The after party: going beyond the boundaries of research
For every great party, there is building up the tension towards the night out, the party itself and a great after-party.The same structure was used in the three staged PR approach Heineken used to spread the word about thisproject: 1 the announcement of the project on the Facebook page and communication about the progress of the project via press releases. All were well picked-up by a wide range of influential design blog and the traditional press. 2 as a warm-up for the opening of the club in Milan, Heineken also communicated about the learnings of the research community with clubbers. The „interactive journey map‟, together with sketches from the designers based on the consumer input, was shared with the press and the whole world (via social media). 3 during and after the opening of „The Club‟, Twitter and (design) blogs played an important role in spreading the word about Heineken’s concept club.
1. The afterlife of the clubThe pop-up club will now travel around the world. Clubbers fromtrendy cities will be able to enjoy this new nightlife experience. Next to that, someof the most well perceived design object will be produced and serve as „brandedutility‟ provided to owners of trendy clubs and bars by Heineken.2. Impact on the brandThe online interviews among visitors of the concept club indicate that the wholeof the project makes that the brand is being seen as more ‘original’ and‘unique’, ‘cosmopolitan’, ‘innovative’, ‘self-confident’ and ‘a brand to beseen with’ than before – a rather unique brand image for a beer, among theseyoung, trendy and influential people. They were surprised by the fact thatHeineken did this project, but it was perceived as a great idea, a cool project and avery relevant end result. To conclude, four out of five visitors stated that they havea better perception of the Heineken brand now.
3. Online conversations and PRBy analyzing the online conversations on the project in the period February 11th2012 to May 11th 2012, we learn that Heineken’s presence at the MilanDesign Week strengthened its ties with the design world from within thecreative scene. Heineken „Open Design Explorations‟ was featured in 127articles, mainly posted on specialty blogs focusing on one of the project‟s designdisciplines. In the defined period, the project generated 1,595 conversations onTwitter, with a boost of 214 tweets on the third party night (April 19th 2012). Theseconversations show a highly positive sentiment and are connecting values like„uniqueness‟, „fun‟ and „surprise‟ to the Heineken brand. The highly targeted andcontent-led design campaign proved to drive market and media engagement,resulting in rich global coverage, sparking positive conversations and elevatingHeineken‟s reputation in open design innovation.
4. Implications for the marketresearch profession how important it is that also creativeThis case study demonstratesprofessions lean on consumer insights in order to become moresuccessful in what they do. It also shows that we as market researchersneed to become more creative in the way we bring research resultsand insights towards our clients and their stakeholders, in order tobecome more impactful with what we do and to make sure that research resultsare really used. We can learn from „management consultants‟ here in terms ofconnecting the dots and reporting in a clear and very actionableway. „Advertising creatives‟, on the other hand, can inspire us to package ourmessage in a more engaging and fun to use way. The „interactive journey map‟app showcased both aspects to a large extent.And finally, why would we be silent about co-creation and collaboration withconsumers? Why not communicate about the fact that we do it, the learnings wegather from it and the final results; if it can have a positive effect on the (perceived)consumer relevance of your products and services and the image of your brand?
Want to know more about OnlineResearch Communities? Tom De Ruyck Head of Research Communities +32 9 269 14 07 firstname.lastname@example.org