If you’re an England fan, it goes without saying that you are having a fine week and if you aren’t an England fan or you aren’t having a fine week, your much-needed elixir is here (who needs victory snatched from the jaws of defeat penalty heroics that condemns 12 long years of a nation’s hurt to its deathbed anyway?!).

Speaking of that elixir, in this issue, we look at why popcorn tastes better with chopsticks, the Fortnite phenomenon, Amazon’s recent strategic move and consumers’ increasing expectations around ethics.

Enjoy and if it wasn’t apparent already, it’s coming home.

You better believe it.

Hi Mum! Said Dad

Image source: Quartz

If you really want to enjoy popcorn, eat them with chopsticks

When we experience something for the first time, the novelty of it all can make it highly enjoyable. Memorable, even. Sadly, the law of diminishing returns then kicks in. We become desensitised to it all and before long, what was once an amazing experience is just another triviality of life.

With this in mind, two researchers from the University of Chicago and The Ohio State University ran an experiment to determine whether consuming familiar things in novel ways can recreate the initial experience of consuming something for the first time. Well, the headline result, as you may have already guessed, was that participants who consumed popcorn kernels with chopsticks (vs those who ate with their hands) perceived the popcorn to be more flavoursome.

The explanation? Unconventional methods for consuming familiar items creates a new perspective of said items — the unconventionality of the situation can serve to sharpen the senses and therefore elicit a more favourable response. In this case, participants paid more attention to the individual kernels and tended to bask in their soft, crunchy-but-chewy glory, consequently creating the perception of tastier popcorn.

Studies like this further emphasise the value of thoughtful UX design — a mundane experience doesn’t have to be so. We raise this because sometimes, in the product context, designers sometimes fall back on ‘best practices’ citing reasons such as “it’s what users are used to” or “users shouldn’t have to think too hard”. These are all fair points — reinventing the wheel should be avoided in certain instances but care must also be taken to ensure such a mentality doesn’t creep into all aspects of a product. Otherwise, you risk creating the same cookie-cutter experience that fails to reimagine the experience in a way in which makes users fall in love with your product.

Certainly one to mull over some popcorn with chopsticks.

By Jeevan Jayaprakash, Strategist

A player looks on as the much awaited, one-off event of a rocket launching in-game takes place. Image source: Newsweek

The Fortnite Phenomenon

Fortnite has taken the world by storm. Even England captain Harry Kane has admitted that it’s the national squad’s favourite pastime when they aren’t training in Russia.

What started out with a basic player vs zombie gameplay has evolved into one of the largest PvP Battle Royale platforms. For those unaware, Battle Royale is a type of gameplay that incorporates survival via scavenging for items and ends when there is only one player left standing.

Astonishingly, Fortnite boasts daily revenues of $1 million from in-game purchases alone. The secret to this success lies in two key strategies — the game is free to download and can be played across a uniquely large number of platforms, ranging from mobile to the recently introduced Nintendo Switch, which saw 2 million Fortnite downloads in the first 24 hours.

Fortnite, owned by Epic Games, has also catapulted to fame due to its popularity on third party platforms like YouTube, where there are over 28.4 million Fortnite videos. Its main competitor, PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds), on the other hand retails at $30 and is available on fewer platforms. Although free, the first 18 days of April saw Fortnite make $25 million on mobile alone. The one-time events, such as the recent ‘rocket launch’, captivate thousands of users who go online just to watch such rare in-game events unfold — it means a lot to say “I was there”, even if it is only virtually!

Fortnite serves as an interesting example of how doubling down on key features rather than trying to be everything to everyone can yield astronomical results. Contrary to what you might expect of one of the most popular games in the world in 2018, Fortnite doesn’t boast anywhere near state-of-the-art graphics and yet is a runaway success that is going from strength to strength because of its core gameplay, low monetary barrier to entry and cross-platform ubiquity.

By Anastasia McLain, Strategist

Image source: TechCrunch

Amazon has another trick up its sleeve in the voice race

We have spoken before a number of times about the ongoing race between Amazon and Google to corner the voice market. Recent developments in the race have included the release of child-friendly devices to tap into the next generation of consumers and the release of devices augmented with screens.

Amazon has been selling Echo devices at a loss and if you needed any more insight into just how important voice is to Amazon’s wider strategy, it looks like Amazon is now willing to cannibalise the sales of these very devices by allowing consumers to convert their existing Fire Tablets into Echo Shows via a software update called ‘Show Mode’, which will bring a full-screen UI complete with access to Alexa. If that wasn’t enough, Amazon is also launching the aptly named ‘Show Mode Dock’, which will allow consumers to turn their Fire Tablet into an Echo Show without needed to shell out an extra $120 dollars.

Ok Google, what’s your move?

By Oliver Iyer, Strategist

Image source: Reuters

Uber and business ethics

“No matter how big or powerful you are, you must play by the rules” — London Mayor Sadiq Khan reminds Uber of its ethical obligation to consumers as the company is allowed to continue operating in London on a 15 month probationary period.

This outcome represents more than just the new CEOs, Dara Khosrowshahi’s, success. It represents the dawn of an age where business ethics matter with consumers increasingly demanding higher standards.

This second chance given to Uber can be in large part attributed to Khosrowshahi’s introduction of the Safety Center feature in the Uber app, which was acknowledged by judge Emma Arbuthnot in her favourable ruling. In a post titled ‘Getting Serious About Safety’, Khosrowshahi describes what this addition to the app entails. Users are able to choose up to 5 ‘trusted contacts’ with whom their Uber journey is shared, and the addition of a 24/7 ‘panic button’ allows the rider to connect with a 999 operator with a single tap.

A company that boasts 45,000 drivers and 3.6 million users in London alone is bound to wield significant influence, but it is clear that consumers no longer tolerate an unethical approach and are sure to hold the company fully accountable for future breaches in trust. Drivers and riders alike have called for higher safety standards, and under Khosrowshahi’s leadership, Uber has finally put the user first.

By Anastasia McLain, Strategist

Image source: 1057 News

Cool thing of the week: The pop to ease the drop

Philip Frenzel is a German engineering student who has recently tackled one of society’s most dreaded predicaments — dropping your phone. The agonising feeling when your beloved companion slowly takes flight towards the unforgiving ground whilst you watch wide-eyed is one that many have experienced.

Thankfully, this no longer has to be the case thanks to the innovative design of the ‘active damping case’, which ejects eight thin metal curls, protecting the edges of the phone from the initial impact and softening the blow considerably. When picking up your phone you simply fold the springs back into their holsters to prepare them for their next deployment.

It probably goes without saying that this very much falls in the function over form camp when it comes to cases so anyone looking for a fashion statement should probably look elsewhere.

By Abigail Bourne, Strategist

Originally written as part of Hi Mum! Said Dad’s weekly newsletter, H! Lites.

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