In my previous blog post I wrote about how convenience relates to the social sphere and how designers should always be aware of what level of convenience they are affording their intended users. In looking through the financial lens, I found financial justification for providing that convenience to users (enhancing your client's financial agenda) and tips on how to provide convenience to clients (enhancing your financial agenda).
LG has proven that providing convenience to a product, over what your competitors offer, can lead to better sales and adaptation of that product. Kimchi is a Korean fermented-cabbage dish with a strong taste and smell that quickly taints other food in a regular refrigerator. In the 1990s, LG released a refrigerator with a special kimchi compartment in it to isolate the odor and to provide proper maturation of the kimchi. By 2005, kimchi refrigerators became a fixture in 65% of Koren homes, and despite growing competition, LG remained the top-selling manufacturer (Esfahani, 2005). LG's Middle East marketing director, Hamad Malik says "Gone are the days where you could just roll out one product for the global market, we speak to consumer individually" (Daft & Marcic, 2008).
What LG has found is that by providing consumers with products that are convenient to their needs and life-styles, rather than a mass-produced product makes the customers happy and provides them with increased sales and success in the market.
LG has applied this technique in several markets over the past years. In India, LG has produced a variety of different appliances, including refrigerators with larger vegetable compartments offered in bright colors that reflect local preferences, dark-colored microwaves to hide masala stains , and a television with extra loud sound to play music on. Household appliances have always stood for increased convenience in the household, but by playing on specific needs in the area, LG is able to gain a substantial advantage above competitors. In 2005, LG's share of the Indian market was 29.4 percent in refrigerators, 26.5 percent in color TVs, 35.8 percent in washing machines, and a crushing 38.0 percent in microwave ovens (Kim, 2005). This performance encouraged LG to set a revenue target of $10 billion by 2010 (five times their revenues in the country in 2005).
Product design is not the only place that added convenience can provide a financial advantage to an organization. How many times have you been turned off from online shopping on a site that has a poorly designed and inconvenient catalogue? Amazon has proven to be an incredibly powerful shopping resource because of the convenience it offers shoppers in both the ease of shopping and the market data they offer to consumers, like items that you might be interested based on a purchase or items that others with similar purchases have looked at. They were ranked 5th out of 50 of Fortune Magazine's Most Admired companies in 2010, and much of their success is due to the innovation and level of convenience they brought to the online shopper, which has enable them to expand outside of book sales.
After that lengthy discussion of how convenience can help you create enhance the financial agenda for your client, it is also important to think about how to enhance your own financial position.
Obviously two key ways to do this are to provide customer service to your clients and to meet your client's goals for the design application. Unfortunately, in the business world, the design world is often perceived as flighty and not necessarily driven by economic/financial measures of success (enough so that one of my marketing/advertising books had a whole chapter dedicated to how to work with the "creatives" at a firm). If you can demonstrate to a client that you value their time (even if they don't necessarily value yours) and offer convenience to them in your general communications and presentations, they are much more likely to keep coming back to you and possibly to recommend you to other colleagues. Chris at Freelance Review wrote The Three Rules of Convenience, which are: reply in a timely manner, give sufficient notice for absences, and deliver on-time, every time. These are valuable tips to keep at the back of your mind, so that you are always considering not only how to create the best design for a client, but also how to treat that client so they will want to continue working with you and enhancing your financial agenda.
Daft, R.L, & Marcic, D. (2008). Understanding management. New York: South-Western.
Esfahani, E. (2005, December 1). Thinking locally, succeeding globally. Business 2.0, Retrieved on October 16, 2010, from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/business2/business2_archive/2005/12/01/8364622/index.htm
Freelance Review. The three rules of convenience. Retrieved on October 3, 2010, from http://www.freelancereview.net/the-3-rules-of-convenience.
Kim, K. (2005, September). Premium marketing to the masses: an interview with lg electronics india's managing director. McKinsley Quarterly, Retrieved October 16, 2010, from http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Premium_marketing_to_the_masses_An_interview_with_LG_Electronics_Indias_managing_director_1666