- Target jumps into book price war started by Wal-Mart, Amazon – What started as a book price skirmish between Wal-Mart and Amazon.com is showing signs of becoming a much broader holiday battle. Today retail giant Target announced it is matching Wal-Mart's online price of $8.99 for top selling, soon-to-be-released titles, including "Under the Dome" by Stephen King and "Breathless" by Dean Koontz.
- Health Concerns Drive New Rituals (or attempts to create new rituals, top-down) – The handshake, with its potential to transfer the flu virus, should be replaced with the safer — and more contemporary — pound [aka fist bump] says the dean of medicine at the University of Calgary.
"It's a nice replacement of the handshake because you can't just refuse to shake someone's hand. It's rude and seems almost un-Canadian," he said. "This is a nice, intimate gesture: a gentle bump of the fist that replaces the handshake if you get used it."
The pound, or fist bump, is a greeting that originated with American black youth in the 1960s and is commonly used among sports teams.
I found another one in Coupeville, WA, the other day.
Despite the rather industrial graphics, there’s a few improvements. It’s very clearly for cleaning the cart, not your hands (as Safeway suggested).. It’s right next to the carts, so when you take a cart, you use it (rather than located near the exit, at Safeway). And should the Red Apple employees fail to maintain the display, there’s at least an encouraging reminder to the customer that they should ask to have it replenished.
This is no iPhone, it’s not a radical innovation, but it’s a definite response to a need, and tracking how it is and isn’t being dealt with is enlightening. First, one has to understand the need. Then one has to develop a solution. Then the solution must be implemented. Properly. Effectively. And throw in iteration, for fun. The fact that something as simple as this fails around solution/implementation at a major chain like Safeway tells you something about the organizational barriers to even the most mild of innovations.
A quick update on the lame hand-wipe station at Safeway (blogged earlier here) – an unattractive display that cleans hands (not cart handles), and doesn’t really address the perceived problem.
It’s been shoved further against the wall, the container for the wipes is sitting open, and is empty.
Add neglect to the problem, I guess.
Many years ago we worked with a client who wanted to help people with “out-of-home personal cleansing.” It was surprising in our interviews to learn that some people worried about the germs left behind on a shopping cart handle. Then last year at a high-end grocery store in Tucson I saw this:
A dispenser for cart wipes. Finally a product that addresses the anxiety, if not removing it.
[Recently some students in our Design Research class at CCA came up with some stats around this same issue that I can't remember, but they were disturbing/gross - the handle was the dirtiest item we'd touch in a typical week??]
Last week I was in my local Safeway and saw this pathetic effort:
Safeway has shifted the problem definition, allowing you to clean your hands instead of the cart? If the cart is dirty, what do you get out of cleaning your hands before you shop? Maybe a hand wipe on the way out, after you return your cart? But still, if the cart is (seen as) dirty, then clean the cart.
They’ve put it right in the entranceway in a location that is filled with other things that people need to access (drinking fountains, DVD vending machine, bubble gum, hallway to restroom). And really, the whole thing is poorly executed: it’s all about the poster; with little focus on the thing you need to grab – the wrong-sized wipe dispenser and then it’s finished off with the inappropriate, ugly, exposed garbage bin.
Maybe it was a prototype to see how people used it, but I think they’ve created something so pathetic and so much about failure (theirs, and your own) that the results wouldn’t be worth too much to me.