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  • Writer's pictureTingbin Tang

Choosing the right metrics for market segments

- A summary for My Story Playtime AR App

When we design our product and service, we got to understand our target users. The target user groups formed our market. “Market segmentation is the activity of dividing a broad consumer or business market, normally consisting of existing and potential customers, into sub-groups of consumers (known as segments) based on some type of shared characteristics.” Quoted from Wikipedia. In short, to do market segmentation, is to divide users into different groups based on common ground. These common ground can be same age range, same location, same religion, same educational background, or same experience and so on. So how do we determine the right metrics to divide users into groups? My answer is simple, depends on which metrics will affect your decision to make on your business and product/service.

The ultimate rule of the universe is also simple, but people always abuzz by complicated information all around the world. For business, it is the same. The rule to determine the right metrics for the market segment is simple, but people do not always do it right. However, it is important to set the right metrics, so we can divide the user groups right to better understand shared user behaviors, and the team can make right decision on top of that understanding. Wrong metrics will only bring in noise and cause confusion. Even for the same product/service, when we are about to make different business decisions, we may have to re-segment the market/users, based on different metrics. For example, when P&G Procter and Gamble R&D team decision to develop a new shampoo, they will do the market segment by the type of hair and scalp. When the sales team is determining the price and sale strategy, they may use geolocation, income level and so on to set as the metrics. When the marketing team is producing a PR video, they may use target audience’ educational background and psychology reactions as metrics to divide the user groups, before finalize the media content and channel.

Image source: cosmeticsbusiness.com

In one of my classes at SJSU San Jose State University, two of my students, Andrew Dunn and Zheng Cheung formed a team, and had done an AR Augmented Reality game on the tablets for the kids, age from 4 to 12. So the first metric they used was ago. This age range of segment has been picked as their target market. Their objective was to create an educational augmented reality gaming application for children ages 4‐12. First, they have done market research, use survey and interview, to understand this group of users. Through their research, they investigated parental engagement with and understanding of their children’s iPod, smartphone or tablet use behavior. Additionally, they have also learnt more about what children enjoy, their motivators and how they interact with technology, specifically touch screen devices.

MyStory Playtime App Interface, encourage user engagement

After the initial research, with better understanding on target market, when designing the actual product and service, this team decided to use psychological factors as the metrics to segment their target users, and divided them into: the scientist, the action hero, the artist, the tea party host, the fairy princess and the nurturer. For example, the scientist is a good worker and doesn’t have trouble focusing their attention. Scientists may be worse at multitasking than the artist or action hero, but are able to diligently work from start to finish when given a task. Scientists may get hung up on smaller details that take time for them to get through. As a result, when making design considerations, the game should have a linear story line. When there are other tasks that are given to the player, it needs to show clear feed forward and affordance so the scientist has a definitive answer to every action they need to make. Also, it’s best to limit a scientist’s selection options because giving them too many choices would slow their decision making. Design the interface with preset options so the scientist will not have to waste time. Another example, the artist. The artist can be both hyperactive or somber, introverted or extraverted, but what sets them apart from the action hero and scientist is their exploration of the world more sensory. For example, they may see something they feel is beautiful and be drawn to learn about it, “The sky is beautiful, why are the colors like that?” The artist is less influenced by the opinions of others, and usually form their own opinion about what is “good” or “bad” to them. The artist is concerned about how they feel toward something. As a result, when making design considerations, there must be effective feedback within the UI elements of the application. The interface must also be visually aesthetic to the artist because they require many colors and visual stimulation. There can be a lot of emotion in how artist observes their environment, so it must be visually engaging. The storyline must also explore creative thinking as well, so it would be best to incorporate puzzles/riddles. The action hero is very active and has a hard time doing stationary activities that only involve mental tasks, like reading and writing. The tea party host is the boss. She alone dictates the decorum in every situation and controls who gets what resources and benefits. She likes to include all types of friends in all her activities, imaginative or real. The fairy princess has a hard time focusing and is often “in her own world.” She’s passive, and works and plays very well with others. The nurturer is a very caring and considerate person. She likes to interact with people, but goes the extra mile to make sure that everyone is having fun. The nurturer isn’t necessarily a people pleaser, but aims to facilitate fairness.

Then Andrew and Zheng built personas representing each segment, with profile images to make them looks more real. Described their name, age, experience, family, personal details, their goals/motives/concerns, use case and scenarios. For example, Elizabeth Bowen, age 7, she is in the 2nd grade at a public school. Her mom works part time. Elizabeth has a younger sister, Amber, who is 4 who she teaches, sometimes bosses around, plays with and loves. They get along most the time. Amber likes to watch Elizabeth play angry birds and subway surfers on her iPod touch. Mom or Dad always helps her with her homework and sometimes reads her a story. She would use the iPad during school free time. She would use it when Mom says no more electronics and TV. Something she could use to teach the little sister and play with her.

From Personas, Andrew and Zheng even had done empathy map to understand how each persona may say, see, think, hear, feel, what are their pain points and what they will be able to gain through the My Story PlayTime AR app. The empathy map, which is a collaborative work result by the team, helps the product teams and other stakeholders to gain a deeper insight into the target users.

Then they played the scenario map, from each steps that a persona may do in this app, ask questions about each step, provide possible answers, then generate ideas/features about product. A user scenario is a fictitious story of the persona, who was about to accomplish an action, to achieve a goal via our product. By start from a person’s motivations, and then list their steps of action, each step what problems they may encounter, and then what features we may need to provide to the users.

After analysis these scenarios, play with scenario map, we can have the product feature lists. With the understanding of the use cases, we can also draw use case diagrams.

Wireframe provides the layout of the interfaces of a product, and we can even generate a low-fidelity prototype with the wireframes to simulate the interactions and the flows of tasks. The wireframe demonstrates what interface elements will have on the pages.

The final design of this app provides “Story”, which allows children to assume the role of the main character in a story that involves a pet or imaginary friend they created; “Quest”, which was a side scrolling gaming mode that allows children to journey though a digital world solving problems and completing objectives as themselves or friend they created; “Friends”, which was a kid safe social MMO involving a virtual world containing a range of online games and activities; and “Store”, where parents and children can buy new stories, characters, quests, & other items.

With the understanding of target users’ needs and psychological factors, this app even allow children to create and customize their own profiles and imaginary friends. Imaginary friends are a common, and normal manifestation for many kids across many stages of development. According to a study, the peak age for having an imaginary friend is from ages three to five. By age 7, 65 percent of children will have had an imaginary friend. Imaginary friends are a symptom of developing social intelligence in a kid.

By leveraging augmented reality technology, My Story Playtime is able to transform any room into an immersive play scape that stimulates a child’s imagination and facilitates learning. Using augmented reality in the story time app, turn an ordinary story-reading into an engaging experience. AR technology provides virtual examples and adds gaming elements to support story and educational contents. As a result, the whole app experience become more interactive. AR helps children better remember the information they've just learned.

By choosing the right metrics, psychological factors in this case, to do the market segmentation to understand target use groups, this project team understood better of the kids’ psychological needs and reactions, and they have really done a great job and designed a fun and engaging AR game for the target audiences. Good job, Andrew and Zheng.

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