There are many ways to do market research. The idea of Cook With a Local sprung out of ethnographic fieldwork we did, and we used design interventions and anthropological research to help determine what our company and online platform should contain. It all started with a cross-disciplinary project between Copenhagen University (Institute of Anthropology and Institute of Cultural Analysis) and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation (School of Design), a project done in collaboration with Wonderful Copenhagen, Socialsquare and Det Gode Naboskab. During this course we set to explore the interfaces between anthropology and design, and did this by conducting several design interventions.
Our research was conducted in Blågården in Copenhagen. We were tasked with looking at what role the digital could play as interface between the local communities and the (potential) visitors, with particular focus on distance and contact between the two groups. We decided to draw up a number of maps of Blågårdsgade, and then asked people we met to mark places on the map, such as their favorite place and the place they would take a tourist. Afterwards we interviewed them about their choices. It was through these maps, and our own observations in the area, that it became clear that food was important to people who used the area, but that there was little interaction between tourists and locals.
THE GROCERY, COOKING, TABLE GAME
Once we had established to work on food as a topic we built a “game” consisting of a grocery cart, a cooking pot and a table. We made a stack of cards with images of food from around the world, and then used the game to talk to people about grocery shopping, cooking and eating together. It gave us insights into who did the grocery shopping and cooking in a family, how they treated their guests, if guests were allowed in the kitchen, and where they sat down to eat a meal (often not around a table).
The game helped break the ice when interviewing a group of female immigrants, as a photo of an Arabic cheese sparked enthusiasm and many stories about cooking. It gave us valuable insight into the importance of food and cooking in a home, and when guests would be welcomed to become part of it. It was partly through this game that we shifted our focus from food in general to cooking.
USING DESIGN INTERVENTION TO BUILD A PLATFORM
Once we had developed the concept of Cook With a Local we decided to make a second design intervention to help get feedback on how to build our online platform. We made an empty profile page, and then a number of sliders people could put onto their page. We went to hostels, local bars and other locations in the area and found people to interview. Each person was asked to make two profiles. One that contained everything they would want to put on their own profile and what they would be willing to share, and one that contained everything they needed from a hosts profile to feel safe. It gave us valuable insight into if people would use our platform, how they would use our platform, what they wanted it include/exclude and made us aware of many aspects we had not thought about ourselves. The game was used as a tool to interview potential users in more detail about our concept, and making our platform user friendly.
We believe that using ethnographic research and design interventions can gain valuable insights when developing a product. Using it when building a platform can help make the website more user friendly from the start.