Anticipatory Design

May 24, 2017 08:08 by Alaina Roberts

Anticipatory Design CCO Public Domain

Imagine a world where your fridge was always stocked and there was no need to think about grocery shopping, simply ‘liking’ an online recipe would get the ingredients delivered direct to your door.
What if you were only shown clothes that would fit and suit your body shape and skin tone? And what if, when you scheduled a client meeting in your calendar, the relevant train tickets were automatically booked for you without having to lift a finger.
Since the birth of the computer users have understood there is a basic set of rules, I need to use a mouse and keyboard or touchscreen to input data in order to get an output. However, things are changing. As companies continue to collect a wealth of data on users, from tracking online activity and preferences to physical whereabouts, this insight can, and will, be used to change our lifestyles.
What is Anticipatory Design?
We make tens of thousands of decisions every single day, but imagine if technology could simply remove the need to make some of those decisions. Netflix and Amazon already use technology that aims to help decision making by learning and suggesting relevant recommendations based on previous behaviour, however Anticipatory design is more than this.
Anticipatory design is about design that is one step ahead of you, based on knowledge of your goals and preferences. “It is when decisions are made for you and executed on your behalf. The goal is not to help the user make a decision, but create an eco-system where a decision is never made” states Aaron Shapiro, CEO of Huge. Shapiro first coined the term Anticipatory design back in 2015 after the search for the Monopoly board game on Amazon turned from a simple purchase to a mammoth task.
The smart decision making of Anticipatory design works by bring together big data, machine learning algorithms, the Internet of Things (from thermostats to coffee machines) and User Experience design.
So, how can Anticipatory design work in practice?
Joel Van Bodegraven at Hyper Island provides a great example of what Anticipatory design could look like for the average person…
It’s 07:00 am, your alarm goes off.
Your mobile screen lights up, shows your schedule and news you’ve missed while you were asleep. Meanwhile, your mobile triggers your coffee machine, turns on the radiator and sets your TV to the correct channel.
While eating breakfast, Google Maps sets up an alarm to leave in 30 minutes in order to arrive in time for your next meeting. 20 minutes later, Uber notifies you that a car is on its way and arrives in 5 minutes.
The Uber arrives, you enter the car and enjoy a comfortable ride to work. While in the car, and without interacting with your phone, coffee is ordered at your favourite coffee shop next to your office. The driver drops you off at the coffee shop where your fresh coffee awaits. With a freshly made coffee in your hand, you enter your office to prepare the next meeting.
Apple’s Finder already gathered relevant conversations and documents to check before the meeting. When your meeting finally starts, your phone turned itself to a ‘do not disturb’ mode and flags important incoming emails for after the meeting.
Whilst we might not yet be seeing this seamless anticipatory experience, there is definitely a trend for technology to be moving this way.
Here are three examples that use anticipatory design…
Google Now
The Google Now app is based on anticipating its user’s needs. Google describes it as designed to deliver ‘What you need before you ask’. Using personalised ‘Cards’, it displays relevant information based on your location, diary and web searches.
Using this insight it can provide a local weather report, tell you how long it will take you to get home from work based on current traffic conditions, show you relevant news stories and recommend nearby restaurants. It can even show you stock prices, flight information and sports scores if that’s what you are interested in.
Amazon Dash Replacement Service
Forgot to re-order the pet food? You don’t even need to remember it with Amazon Dash. A connected automatic pet food dispenser with built-in sensors can measure the amount of remaining food in the container, and when supplies reach a certain level, it would instantly re-order some more without any manual intervention required.
Digit is a US-based online app designed to target those people who are not very good at saving money. The app reviews the users spending habits and lifestyle, and then works out how much money to set aside into a separate savings account. The aim is to help users build up a savings pot that might be used towards an emergency fund or a holiday. It reassures users that they have access to their money at all times and are so confident in their calculations they guarantee that you won’t go in to your overdraft. These three examples help to highlight both the opportunities and concerns that could come from Anticipatory design.
So, what are the benefits of Anticipatory design?
• Reduced decision making
Making decisions is a mental strain for users. Cognitive load relates to the amount of information that working memory can hold at one time. Although consumers think they want choice, too much choice results in decision fatigue and cognitive overload. When this happens the outcome leads to poor decisions being made or no decision being made at all.
• Simplified user interfaces
When the smart technology removes the need for so many choices, it means that interfaces can be more streamlined, less distracting and provide a more intuitive online experience.
• Save users time
If the technology is doing the thinking on behalf of the user, it means users can avoid doing mundane tasks and let their connected devices manage them on their behalf.
The Drawbacks of anticipatory design
Whilst the advantages of anticipatory design sound appealing, it is not without its drawbacks.
• Privacy concerns
The model of anticipatory design relies on using different sources of data held on a user. This access of extensive data might be an issue for many users with regards to privacy.
• Loss of control
As humans we’re so used to being in control when using technology, and the concept of anticipatory design, by its very definition, removes this user control to anticipate (or assume) what the user wants or needs before they request it. Are users ready to relinquish control?
• Getting it wrong
The entire premise of anticipatory design is based on habit and previous behaviour, but just because a user did something in the past doesn’t automatically mean that’s how they want to do it in future. By hiding new and different things it will limit a user’s discovery of new experiences.
The future of Anticipatory design
With the exponential growth of digital solutions designed to make our lives easier, it is more a case of when, rather than if, Anticipatory design will become a natural part of our lifestyle and help to, as Shapiro puts it,‘[let] you focus on what’s important to you in work and life’.
Originally published on 8th May 2017 by Alaina Roberts at DotLabel.


Tags: Technology, Decision making, Amazon, Google, Privacy

Categories: Digital Marketing

The Learner’s Perspective: The rise of the millennial consumer

February 21, 2017 10:04 by Emma Hailstone

The Learner’s Perspective: The rise of the millennial consumer CCO Public Domain

Who is a ‘millennial’?

Millennials are an increasingly talked about demographic in research. Their behaviour as consumers has started to affect, and will continue to affect businesses in different ways, but not just in the marketing department. With big businesses such as RSM and Goldman Sachs talking about them, it is clear that this is something which is a significant talking point. As a millennial myself, it is a subject that I have been keen to write a blog about.

For those who are not familiar with the term, the ‘millennial’ generation refers to people who are currently between the ages of 16 and 35, so those born between 1980 and 2000. They have grown up in an era of rapid technological change, globalisation and economic trouble, giving them their own unique set of behaviours and experiences.

What is important to them?

Young people are reported to have different priorities from previous generations. The number of people that choose to go to University has increased; but with the rise of inflation, fees also continue to increase, recently increasing to £9,250 with the forecast that this will rise over £10,000 in the future. Therefore, graduates are coming out of University with higher student debts.

Once they have graduated, on average young people are also earning lower incomes; it has been in the news that there is an increasing ‘intergenerational divide’ in earning potential, based on the calculation that young people will earn £8,000 less during their 20s than previous generations. Coupled with rising living costs, this means many graduates choose to move back home after graduation or rent shared accommodation to save up to buy a house, as house prices are unaffordable.

As young people are putting off marriage and buying a house and tying themselves into a mortgage, this leaves them with more disposable income to spend on other things. This means they are vital consumers for industries such as technology, fashion, entertainment and travel as they would rather spend their money travelling around the world, buying the latest gadgets and socialising with friends.

Young people are also keen to invest in their wellbeing due to greater knowledge of the importance of living an active, healthy lifestyle. We are now more aware of the health risks associated with overeating and not exercising enough, and so growing up with these advancements in medical knowledge means young people are more willing to exercise more, eat better and smoke less than previous generations. This is helped with health apps readily available on smartphones and also the increasing fashion of owning a fitness device such as the Fitbit. Research conducted by Goldman Sachs found that millennials are more willing to spend money on ‘compelling’ wellness brands, as it has become fashionable to wear active wear. Brands are beginning to respond to this new fashion by diversifying and creating their own lines of sporting wear, such as Cath Kidston and Jack Wills who have both launched a new sportswear range recently.

What does this mean for marketers?

Authenticity is key to prosperity online, as young consumers are well-informed so are quick to latch onto anything negative through online reviews or peer recommendations. The customer’s experience needs to be just as important as price and product when putting together a marketing strategy. If a high level of service is expected, this should be rolled out consistently to every customer touchpoint, resulting in a seamless customer experience. Seamlessness is something which has become almost expected when purchasing online, with the ease of being able to purchase almost anything and having it delivered the next day without a hitch. If someone is able to make a quick and easy purchase, it is likely that they will make another purchase in the future.

For brands to succeed at marketing to young people, an online presence is also important. Young people have grown up as ‘digital natives’, constantly connected online on their phones and browsing using different online platforms. This makes them an ideal target for brands. However, the way in which brands reach out to millennials is important. Young people are unlikely to ‘like’ a page on Facebook if it does not have anything to offer. With less money to spend on average, loyalty schemes and vouchers are more appealing so that they get value for money. They have a wide range of knowledge at their fingertips on their smartphones. Often when making a purchasing decision, they are likely to compare the product or seek reviews online before deciding where to buy it from.

For those who have become online retailers, many brands have started to use their online presence to deliver a personalised experience. This is more popular amongst young consumers as it is appealing to be treated as a valued customer. Integration across channels is therefore important here so that there is consistency. This will enable you to have a ‘single conversation’ with young consumers and hopefully offer a better, faster and more memorable experience. However, this should not be limited to young people, as their parents are also becoming more digitally savvy. Consumer uptake of new communications technologies has compressed over the years; it took 30 years for radio, 15 years for mobile phones and social media just 3 and a half years. Those who do not adapt and evolve with these technologies are likely to be left behind in the fast-flowing current of new technology.

In order to create this personalised experience, it is key for you as a marketer to develop a persona of a young person as your target market. A persona is a fictional representation of needs, goals and behaviours. This will help you to understand young consumers better and will ultimately help you to create the solutions to the potential problems they may face.

Tags: Millennial Consumer, Digital, Technology, Persona

Categories: A Learner's Perspective

The Learner's Perspective: What will 2017 look like for marketing?

January 11, 2017 14:41 by Emma Hailstone

The Learner's Perspective: What will 2017 look like for marketing? Happy New Year - michila

It seems appropriate for my first blog of the New Year to be looking to the year ahead. The trends that I am going to discuss are by no means an exhaustive list, but they are the trends that are going to be significant in 2017.


At this time of year, a lot of people are likely to be thinking about what holidays they wish to go on to beat the post-Christmas blues.

The falling value of the pound and the uncertainty of security will have an impact on the travel industry; holidaymakers are likely to get less for their money when they exchange into foreign currencies, and so going on holiday abroad will be more expensive.

The benefit for marketers working within the UK travel and tourism industry would be a cheaper destination for overseas tourists and costal resorts will be far more appealing to UK citizens, which will all benefit the British tourism industry. Targeting these sectors might be fruitful.

The B2B sector may suffer due to the recent political uncertainty, which may deter corporate guests coming to the UK, who make up the majority of hotel rooms booked by overseas travellers.

The extent to which all of the above affects consumers’ decisions is yet to be seen, but as often holidays are booked well in advance we will find out in the near future.


As a result of the decision to leave the EU, the price of sourcing global produce is likely to go up. This could be a problem for supermarkets that source their meat, fruit and vegetables from abroad. Therefore, consumer patterns may change as they may choose the value supermarkets instead, or at least those that source all their meat from the UK.

We have seen the consequences for supermarkets already with the dispute between Tesco and Unilever over their request for a 10% increase in prices. This led to a day of panic as favourite brands disappeared from Tesco’s shelves. Although they were able to resolve the dispute quickly, this is not the end for price disputes and so consumers are likely to see price increases in the new year.

For brands, the key is to establish whether they focus on price or whether to focus on customers.

A brand which has adopted both these strategies to remain in the premium bracket is Marks and Spencer, who have been struggling to compete with their clothing range.

M&S CEO Steve Rowe proposed and implemented a number of changes last year including a focus on their food sector, as this area of their business generates 50% of profits (BBC News, 2016). I am sure that most of us will agree that we would rather go to M&S for their food rather than their clothing or homeware.

To combat the falling profits in the clothing sector, price cuts and a reduction in price promotions were proposed. A number of stores have also been closed as the company reviewed the viability of the stores themselves.

Other retailers who will take a hit are those who outsource their production, such as Ted Baker whose labour is based in Hungary. The truth to this will come with the outcome of the negotiation of the trade agreements with the EU, the time of which is still yet to be determined, as this cannot happen until the UK has officially left the EU. Ultimately, trading globally could become much harsher and more competitive as the UK is no longer under the protection of the benefit of free trade within the EU.


In 2017, the nature of work may change. Over the past couple of years, we have seen a rise in what has been termed the ‘gig economy’. This term refers to workers who are on a form of a zero-hour contract, getting paid for the ‘gigs’ they do rather than receiving a set wage per hour, applying to people who work for companies such as Uber and Deliveroo.

This change in the nature of employment is not compliant with UK employment law. There is the danger here that wages will be too low and so there will be an increase in inequality, so therefore it has attracted scrutiny as all workers are entitled to the national minimum wage.

A tribunal in October last year ruled that Uber must pay the minimum wage for all their workers and that they are no longer considered ‘self-employed’. In response to this, Uber has sought a legal ruling to class itself as a digital platform rather than a transport provider to avoid this ruling being enforced (Marketing Week, 2016). This acts as a warning to brands to be mindful of how they communicate in response to tackling these issues as they pursue a new way of defining work in the future.


Augmented reality has come to the fore this year, particularly with the success of Pokémon Go. This has been an enlightening development for local businesses who have attracted more customers by becoming a ‘pokéstop’. Further developments in this area will be interesting to see in 2017.

For years the future of tech has been in artificial intelligence. Some argue that Siri, the voice recognition service used by Apple is a form of AI but the key competitor in this area is the online retailer Amazon, with the release of the smart speaker ‘Echo’. Increasingly, businesses are finding ways to offer consumers choice and the ability to simplify daily tasks by communicating with a ‘faceless machine’ (Marketing Week, 2016).

Something else to consider is whether TV will become less relevant in wider advertising strategies. There are those who think that TV ads are going to be less effective as people migrate to using other channels to watch TV programmes. Engagement will therefore be defined by number of views online. However, analysing online metrics has been criticised in light of Facebook inflating their data (The Guardian, 2016), therefore we can question whether people will trust online advertising data that is reported, especially from big companies such as Facebook and Google. This offers a warning to brands to make sure that they are attentive to detail to avoid misreporting that users are more engaged with content than they actually are.

‘Post-Truth’ Consumers

Furthermore, the dangers of communicating false information resides in what has been named ‘post-truth’ politics, awarded the ‘Word of the Year’ by the Oxford Dictionary last year. The term ‘post-truth’ defines the moment when we as consumers are quick to react based on emotion or personal belief rather than by checking the facts.

To feed these beliefs, some newspapers are quick to put out news with misleading content. These particular newspapers have been targeted by the ‘Stop Funding Hate’ campaigners on Facebook who particularly targeted companies who advertise in these newspapers, as this symbolises their support for the misleading articles printed, including those which demonise migrant workers. As a result, many of these companies have stopped advertising in these newspapers. This campaign comes at an appropriate time, as the Christmas adverts released by companies such as John Lewis and Sainsbury’s, designed to inspire a sense of goodwill and unity are in conflict with the money raised from Christmas sales that is being put towards adverts in newspapers that inspire a ‘culture of hate’ amongst its readers.

This offers a positive lesson for marketing as it demonstrates how marketers should appeal to the ‘post-truth consumer’. Customer experience is a topical issue with consistency being key to gain the trust of customers as they will be quick to latch onto any criticism and broadcast their complaints over social media.

Tags: Retail, Technology, Work, Travel, Post-Truth Consumers, 2017

Categories: A Learner's Perspective