Posts tagged “profile”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • New Yorker profile of Fred Franzia, the rather unpleasant character behind Charles Shaw wine (akaTwo Buck Chuck) – "You tell me why someone's bottle is worth eight dollars and mine's worth two dollars," he says. "Do you get forty times the pleasure from it?" With Two Buck Chuck, Franzia invented a category known as “super-value” wine. Cheap wine – so-called skid-row wine – is noting new; Franzia's idea was to make cheap wine that yuppies would feel comfortable drinking. He put Charles Shaw in a seven-hundred-and-fifty millilitre glass bottle, with a real cork, and used varietal grapes.
  • Offline, accurate quantitative usage data can be tough to capture – Advertisers rely on M.R.I.’s research. It measures how many readers a magazine has, including people who did not buy it but read a friend’s copy or flipped through it at the doctor’s office. It also profiles the readers of all the magazines, including their income levels, attitudes and toothpaste-buying habits.

    M.R.I. divides the country into representative neighborhoods and sends researchers to the zones to conduct a 45-minute interview, with 26,000 people a year, asking them to remember which magazines they have read in the last six months.

    The researchers leave behind a 104-page survey about what sort of television shows people watch, what kind of products they use, and what social or behavioral traits describe them. M.R.I. then tries to adjust its results so they represent the country.

    [But there are accuracy issues] While M.R.I. said Tennis magazine’s readership dropped almost by a third, its subscriptions and newsstand sales rose slightly.

Design an “Experience” for Users – Profiled in a Japanese technology magazine

Portigal Consulting is covered in a recent cover article (Design an “Experience” for Users) in NIKKEI ELECTRONICS, January 28, 2008 vol. 970.

A large number of companies are seeking detailed information from end users that will hold clues for products offering a brand new experience. But for an idea to become reality, companies will have to discard any basic assumptions they already hold.

The magazine is print-only, and is in Japanese (link above is only to the article summary). If you’ve got a copy of the article and want to share, please let me know. We’d love to see the piece and someday even find a translation.

Update: scans are posted here. Thanks, David!

New Yorker profiles Roald Dahl

From a lengthy New Yorker profile of Roald Dahl comes this story of a formative exposure to the notion that the products we experience are the result of conscious deliberate decisions by others, and that this is a process one can engage in.

He and the other boys at Repton also enjoyed a curious perk, courtesy of the Cadbury chocolate company. “Every now and again, a plain grey cardboard box was dished out to each boy in our House,” Dahl writes in Boy. Inside were eleven chocolate bars, aspirants to the Cadbury line. Dahl and the other boys got to rate the candy, and they took their task very seriously. (“Too subtle for the common palate” was one of Dahl’s assessments.) He later recalled this as the first time that he thought of chocolate bars as something concocted, the product of a laboratory setting, and the thought stayed with him until he invented his own crazy factory.

Dahl is brilliant at evoking the childhood obsession with candy, which most adults can recall only vaguely. In his books, candy is often a springboard for long riffs on imagined powers and possibilities. Far from being the crude ode to instant gratification that critics like Cameron detect, Dahl’s evocation of candy is an impetus to wonder. When Billy, the boy in The Giraffe, the Pelly, and Me (1985), opens his own candy shop–talk about wish fulfillment!–he orders confections from all over the world. “I can remember especially the Giant Wangdoodles from Australia, every one with a huge ripe red strawberry hidden inside its crispy chocolate crust,” he says. “And The Electric Fizzcocklers that made every hair on your head stand straight up on end. . . . There was a whole lot of splendid stuff from the great Wonka factory itself, for example the famous Willy Wonka Rainbow Drops–suck them and you can spit in seven different colours. And his stickjaw for talkative parents.” The word “confection” has a double meaning in Dahl’s world: candy is a source not only of sweetness but of creativity. On a field trip recently, I sat next to three nine-year-old boys who spent forty-five minutes in a Wonka-inspired reverie, inventing their own candies.

Wired 13.05: Seoul Machine

Wired has a nice history of Samsung

In his 1996 New Year’s address, Lee proclaimed the Year of Design Revolution. He was referring to design in the broadest sense – not just styling but consumer research and marketing as well. Engineers had once defined new products and decided what features to give them; now specialists in everything from industrial design to cognitive science would take that role. When Lee issued his decree, ‘most of us didn’t understand what he was talking about, ‘ says Kook-hyun Chung, the senior vice president who heads the Corporate Design Center in Seoul. ‘Now we understand that we have a new, bigger, broader responsibility.


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