Since its introduction to the european food market in 1838, our case partner has created a selection of food products to ease the cooking experience. The brand offers a large variety of soups, bouillons, fonds and assorted meal kits. Our case partner wishes to re-imaging and re-brand the concept behind their fluid meals and make them more attractive to the young Nordic market. Overall, the design should consider the entire user experience of consuming the product: from buying the product at the store, to preparing the meal at home, and finally, to enjoying/consuming the meal.
The main concern with our partners’ products is to minimize the common belief that the powder-based products are unhealthy or that it can be considered as ‘junk food’. Therefore, the final design should consider the following factors:
• Convenience: The meal should be somewhat healthy and filling, but still easy and quick to prepare.
• Personalization: The consumer should be able to customize the product to fit their specific budget and lifestyle.
• Transparency: The product should have a clear label description, so the consumer can understand and recognize the ingredients.
• Quality: The product packaging should be desirable and the meal delicious.
Group members: Camilla Fischer, Fransisco Muro, Krzysztof Kruk, Mille Severinsen and Michelle Attias.
Through our collection of data and experimentation of different design ideas has ultimately culminated into a final concept. The concept was largely based on one of our initial concepts, but has since been simplified to make the user experience more convenient and user-friendly.
In order to create a sustainable solution, we first needed to examine the problem behind the case. Essentially, we discovered that the most prominent problem regarding our partners’ products was consumers’ negative associations with powder-based food (based on interview). In the interest of creating more positive associations with the products, we decided to step away from powder and pursue the concept of freeze-dried whole foods.
In an effort to create a wholesome experience, the concept is inspired by the functionality of a vending machine, where the freeze-dried ingredients will be separated in categories and encased in modular packages.
To create a more user-oriented process, the consumer will interact with an integrated LCD-screen from which the person can browse through recipes or filter the recipes by choosing a specific ingredient. For example, if you are hungry for rice, you can click on rice, and the index will show you a variety of recipes with rice to choose from. The recipes also include a full list of ingredients to create that meal, whether it is an italian pasta dish, an indian rice dish, or a mexican-inspired soup – the options are endless. It is also possible to exclude a particular ingredient, if you don’t want to add it to the meal. After choosing your ingredients, the machine collects the ingredients in a box that you can take with you to the cashier.
The key idea behind freeze-dried food is to maintain the ingredients’ natural shape and texture, but still afford the consumer an easy cooking experience. The preparation is simplified and the cooking time is less than 15 minutes. Since the consumer can choose to include and exclude ingredients, the concept also agrees with people with individual budgets.
Before initiating our group work, we were introduced to our case-partner. The motivation for the partnership was to re-imagine and re-brand the concept of fluid meals in order to create a more satisfying experience for new customers. The primary criteria for the concept were:
• to mainly target young Nordic people.
• to create a product we ourselves would consume on a weekly basis.
• to consider the entire experience of buying, preparing, and consuming the product.
In order to create a concept of substance and credibility, we found it necessary to gather information about our target group and current movements and trends in Scandinavian food cultures.
In the interest of comprehending our target group and elucidating some of the current food trends, we initiated our research by browsing for recurring factors in various surveys and gastronomic studies of Nordic food culture. This research gave us an early indication of the principal ‘trends’, we had to take into account. Those were:
• Organic, local, and season-based foods.
• Healthy recipes and/or international cuisines.
• Transparency regarding labels and ingredients.
• Convenience regarding shopping and preparing food.
Based on our readings, we prepared an interview with the owner of Aalborg Streetfood to acquire more data. The reason for choosing the Streetfood concept is largely due to its rising regard as a trendy place for urban people to join for eclectic food and casual surroundings.
We visited Aalborg Streetfood to interview the owner as well as the kitchen chefs and possible customers, however, due to some complications in the kitchens, we were not able to taste the food nor document our experience of the venue, since it had to close.
We did manage to get an interview with owner alongside the other groups working on this case. The main conclusions of the interview were related to the feeling of a high quality experience for the customer: The food had to feel ‘home-made’, the venue/surroundings should be casual and intimate, and there should be a variety of different cuisines to facilitate the customer in the process of choosing what they want to eat.
Initially, we wanted to return to Streetfood the following day to collect more data; they were, however, still closed. Instead, we decided to put together a survey and share it with our individual social media networks to reach a larger group of participants. The survey ultimately received 304 responses which collectively gave us a clear indication of the aspects, we needed to consider in our concept design.
Analysis of fieldwork:
The survey consisted predominantly of multiple choice answers, so we could gather the data in statistic graphs. The survey ultimately resulted in the following conclusion:
• 69% of the participants are in the age group 20-30 y/o, which suited our target group well.
• 87,6% are in full-time occupations (job or education), which also suited our idea of making cooking convenient and efficient.
• The participants have very different budgets for food, therefore, the concept should facilitate that factor.
• 85% wants to be aware of the ingredients in their food.
• 58,2% would buy convenience meals/meal kits if they are both healthy and inexpensive.
• Most of the participants have negative beliefs about powdered food, noting that it consists of too many additives and too much salt. Also, it is lacking in nutrition, doesn’t look natural and often have unspecified ingredients on the label.
In summary, our main factors to consider in the concept were:
• Transparency: We want the consumer to know what they are eating. The concept should aspire to create convenience food, that is still somewhat whole, thereby, avoiding powder-based food.
• Personalization: The process of buying, preparing, and enjoying the meal should be personalized and customizable to each consumer – both to create a more enjoyable cooking experience, but also to fit any budget.
• Shareability: Since most of our participants associated convenience food (especially powdered food) with ‘junk food’, we want to create a food concept that is more healthy and visually appealing, thereby making the meal more shareable. The consumer can use the products to cook for their family or share a picture of their meal on social media.
With this information, we brainstormed different ideas and landed on 4 concepts that could correlate with each other.
Our first concept was to create a portable ‘soup maker’ machine, that could be rented for events, venues, parties, office buildings, campus grounds etc. The machine provided soup to-go, and the customer could either click-and-click or order ahead via an app. The customer could choose a large variety of mix’n’match ingredients to create a recipe to cater to their imidiate craving.
Our second concept was inspired by the soup maker machine, however, this concept was a machine that could be placed at a supermarket instead. The difference between the concepts is that the store-based machine provided the consumer with ingredients they could cook at home, and not on the go. The ingredients would be devided into categories (spices, fond/bouillon, vegetables, etc.) and they would be whole and dry-freezed to last longer than fresh produce. Same as the portable machine, the ingredients would allow the consumer to mix ingredients to create countless variations of recipes.
Our third concept was to create a new line of products that are plantbased – either vegetarian or vegan. Since food trends point towards sustainable consuming and eating more organic and local produce, a line of plantbased products with a nature-themed graphic design might provide more food options for people with restricted diets or encourage more people to eat green.
Our fourth concept was generally applicable to any of the concepts above. The idea was to create a campaign of TV-commercials paired with a website or app that promoted the re-branding of our partners’ existing products. The campaign would promote the companies’ new values of healthy food. The products would mainly focus on organic ingredients and creating more transparent labels, so people would feel more comfortable eating the meals. The website would also allow the consumer to see how the products were made and processed.
Follow-up case meeting and quality requirements:
In order to verify whether our preliminary work with the concepts matched our case partners’ expectations, we had a meeting with them prior to initiating any further work. At the meeting, we presented our concepts thus far and presented our fieldwork, data results, ideas for personas and the concepts in general. Afterwards, we discussed the possibilities and relevance of the concepts.
Our case partner agreed on the quality criteria we presented and the features of the concepts. However, we realized that our perception of the concepts were not in accordance with our case partners’ expectations. In their opinion, we focused too much on the purchase experience rather than the cooking/consuming experience. Our case partner suggested to be more detailed and focus on the actual product, which we took into further consideration in our subsequent concept development.
The quality criteria we agreed upon were: 1) Transparency, 2) Convenience, 3) Healthy, and 4) Personal involvement and shareability.
The follow-up meeting with our case partner required us to rethink some aspects of our concepts. Even though our case partner had a different mindset in terms of the core design, we eventually decided to pursue the concept of the store-based machine.
Since our concept mainly revolved around an interaction with the interface of the machine and how the concept essentially works, we decided to create a persona; a young man, who goes grocery shopping for healthy and easy food.
In order to simplify the process of creating a convincing and instructive video sketch on a very tight schedule, we chose to create illustrations to produce a stop-motion video.
We initiated the process by creating a simple storyline, starting with a main character going to the supermarket to shop. Then, he discovers the machine.
The main sequence of the video would essentially demonstrate how the interface would work and how simple the meals would be to cook.
After creating a rough draft of our video sketch, we had a meeting with two other U-CrAc groups to get and give feedback on sketches. The feedback we received on our sketch was mainly focused on creating more details in the animation in order to make the concept more obvious. The other students encouraged us to focus more on the advantages and uniqueness of our product, including the freeze-drying process, the user interaction with screen, and the fact that the product is a quick, easy and healthy alternative.
We received very positive feedback on the actual concept and were given further ideas to promote the concept, like creating user-generated recipes for the software. Although we didn’t incorporate these ideas into our video sketch, the feedback has made us reflect further on our concept and has given us a deeper understanding of its advantages and disadvantages.