Air Lite

The project was done as part of the “Product Strategy” live workshop at ‘Domus Academy’ in conjunction with ‘Airlite’ , a green technology driven paint company. As a part of a cross-disciplinary team, we came up with a “Trust centrist strategy” that can answer the need of product placement, brand development & product experience for the company. Our strategy solution was to partner with companies like ‘Airbnb’ or with individuals offering home-stay or tourism experiences. We developed a set of concepts for implementation for experiencing the brand both in physical & virtual space.

The presentation can be viewed as below. After the presentation , a brief case-study of the project is available.

Case Study

BRIEF

Airlite is a “category-defining” company offering “category-defining” products. While this represents a unique value proposition in its business model, it puts the company in the position to face a key challenge: identifying and executing a product strategy to gain its own space in the mind of the specifier (architect), the buyer (construction company), the user (painter), the consumer (dweller) as well as in both B2B and B2C retail channels.

Supporting Airlite in designing this product strategy was the challenge of this workshop.


TEAM

Chen Yulan – Business Designer
Nirmit Gupta – Product Designer
Praveen Sinha & Minju Kim – Interaction Designers

Since this project required a multi-value perspective & multi-channel approach we all pitched in collectively at each stage of the project. My role was more definitive in the scope of ideation, research & presentation.


PROCESS

We planned the stages of the project based on the Double Diamond Process, viz. Discover, Define, Develop & Deliver.

Before going into the discover phase of the project, we were given four goals to direct our approach to the challenge :

  1. Product Strategy : How to gain space in the mind of the specifier, buyer, user, dweller ?
  2. Application Concept : How to use the product in innovative ways ?
  3. Brand Strategy and Design : How to gain space in B2B and B2C retail channels ?
  4. Design for User Experience : How to combine the physical and digital experiences ?

Discover Phase

We started with client interviews & secondary research to understand the product range & product placement as per the current trends in the industry.

The Client had 4 different product lines of paint – each for a particular area of usage. We used the Business Model Canvas to understand the value proposition of the product line ups.

airlite-range

After that a detailed competitive analysis was done – for both online marketplaces & physical stores in Milan area. We isolated the product strategy, brand strategy & user experience of 3 major competitors in the same technology paint space.

airlite-compete

Next we took up trend analysis in the paint user spaces. It pointed us to some peculiar upcoming trends like – crowd-funded designs, social-engagement, hi-tech houses, linked skyscrapers and changing family structures.
We did a quick SWOT analysis for Airlite brand – we looked up for the opportunity areas to move ahead to the next phase of analysis & synthesis.

Define Phase

To bring further clarity to the Clients’ approach – we mapped the brand on a 2×2 matrix based on two KPIs of ‘Approach to Market’ & ‘Affordance’ . From out analysis we understood that – the big players in the paint market who dominate the physical stores are having a very traditional approach to the customers problem. While the small players are embracing the web technology to create new business models for themselves – involving virtual experience of their product.
The second KPI of affordance – was based on the affinity of users to shift to new products. People were rarely adventurous in their approach to selecting the paint for their homes. Its either an expert opinion or a recommendation from their peers or family members. We wanted to place Airlite in a space where this becomes acceptable for the user to switch their choices.

airlite-matrix

So to answer the question – How to create awareness among the users?

The Client was running up Airlite Academy – a space to bring together the masons of the city & promote them through informing about the benefits of using the products. Other than that they were using collaborations with street artists & painters and associating the brand with various social campaigns for PR.

As per the Push-Pull models of marketing, we understood the current traditional approach of pushing the product in the market . So we started to look for ‘PULL’ strategies for the client. A Pull strategy involves marketing the product directly to the consumers so that they ask for our product from their middle-man in the chain. We moved ahead in this direction with specific focus on areas of ‘Brand Identification’ & ‘Integrated Communication’ for the client.

airlite-pushpull

We went into third round of research, and concluded by defining a ” Trust Strategy “ for the client. It was influenced by the ‘Slow Living’ stream of philosophy originating from Italy itself. With its core values being associated with trust, health, sustainability & communes.

Develop Phase

For the development phase, we brainstormed, created user personas & user scenarios to come up with various solutions which can help build trust based on the above defined core values. We settled on the strategy of collaboration as the chief method to build trust with our final users.

During the process, we looked at potential partners for collaboration in Italy. We kept our core-values as the cut-off mark for settling on a collaborator. Finally, we settled on ‘Airbnb’ as the most suitable collaborator for the solution. There was an overlap of core-values for both the brands.

airlite-airbnb

Taking Airbnb as a suitable guidepost, we created personas of independent hosts as a partner for this strategy. We developed both physical & digital concepts for implementation by Airlite. The below concepts were shown through a user journey of a guests Airbnb Experience.

Physical Concepts :

  • Airlite can subsidise the cost of paint for the host to be used in the bed & breakfast space. It can also include giving free paint-services to the consumer. This will increase the affordance for the hosts to shift to Airlite & build a positive brand trust in them.
  • Airlite can keep their brand materials, souvenirs , fixtures, paint booklets & stickers in the hosts apartment. This will help further spread the awareness among the guests towards the brand.
  • With the technology of Airlite products, the guests will get to experience a fresh & pollution free interior living space. This will elevate the guest experience, which will benefit the host in a peer-to-peer based social credit systems like Airbnb.

Digital Concepts :

  • A Online Airlite Community to answer the paint related questions of the user. A forum space which will have QnA, Experts Advice, Professional connections, User DIY Videos e.t.c. This will help Airlite to match the brand with the millenial generation who are engaged online to find solutions to their trivial issues like painting as well.
  • A Map based Airlite Service providers page for people to easily hire & book masons & also locate experience centres to check look & feel of the product before buying.
  • On Airbnb websites, we can have an extra symbol in the amenities section which will show a badge of ‘Airlite Protected’ space.

Deliver Phase

We presented the above concepts to the clients through the help of website prototypes in Adobe Illustrator. We took the clients through the solutions from the perspective of a user persona.
To convey the physical concepts, we created mock-ups of already present AirBnb spaces and placed the brand based fixtures, wall stickers, color-books & souvenirs on the images. The user perspective was explained as a continuous story of the digital experience.

The presentation document at the top was the final outcome of the workshop.

Feedback : The Clients liked the idea of collaboration with other companies like Airbnb. Although, there was no negative feedback on the concepts, the client was looking for a short-term solution to initiate their products in the Italian market. They kept our solution as a long-term strategy for their brand.