Which is the best designresearch tool for pure styling?

Hi all.
I’m a last year student currently working on my thesis project, a wristwatch design. It will be pure styling because of the tech-specs, wich I feel holding me back a lot. It’s a low-cost, big-volume brand, so there isn’t much room for innovative design solutions or cool tech features. - But they do want a new topseller. The company is small and not very familliar with any design process.

My question is; What kind of research/analisys tool would You use for a project like this? - Pure styling, with standard components and traditional manufacturing methods and materials.

Ok, my problem sounds worse than it is. - But i feel I cant rely on traditional product development-tools as QFD’s and similar. They deal with defined problems, wich mine isn’t. I just got the question; can you design a new top seller?. My first thought was to concentrate on branding. - Wich is largely based on market researches.

But will a small market research solve the problem? Shall i rely om my own intuition and do what i think is best?

Sorry about the poor english, I’m european :slight_smile:
Thank you

For your THESIS? Never!

For starters, read “Watches Tell More than Time” by Coates.

Definitely do market research. Even a small sample size is better than nothing–there are diminishing returns on large sample sizes anyway. Get close to the market of the current top seller and find out what influenced their decision.

everybody has there own way right?

what is most impotant is that you be able to construct a body of work that shows you can be a professional designer in a thesis.

Personaly I would go about this project by looking into who the average consumer is in this case and build out several image boards. One showing the type of people that buy the watch. A second showing what other things this person is buying currently in unrelated feilds. A third showing what things they Aspire to own, and a fourth board highlighting key competition to this product. From here I would simply start sketching and sketch a lot, allways refrencing the boards, a refine it down until you have a solution that fits.

To me, the real question is, while this is a quite common design excersise in the real world, does it have enough meat to be a thesis? This is something a firm might do in like 2 weeks. Boards, sketches, refinement sketches, rendering, and a quick control drawing, maybe another week or two for a 3d model.

Thanks a lot for your answers!
I came out wrong with the “shall i rely on my own…”. - Of course I will create a good foundation before the sketch-phase.

I will make a market research wich target both the end user, retailers and maybe the fashion industry. The user know what he/she wants right now, the retailer think what he/she wants tomorrow and the fashion industry creates what he/she is going to (and want to) wear the day after tomorrow.

The hard part is to create the right questions and even harder; to put the material together to make it work as a decent foundation. But that’s my problem.

Do You have any tips on litterature?

Again, thanks a lot!

the main question is what does your user want outta the watch other than time. is it the brand or some other thing (on that note- you would probably never guess, what i want from my watch other than time)

brand might be important because it can change the design language. but it doesn’t mean you can set a market language. you can also put to test some hypothetical situation where you have mix of seperate sets of ideas. the limit or rather the challenge would be how accurate your estimate is of the comparative quality and sofistication of the product as it relates to its market. that includes picking an original design strategy / planning that would also challenge the market.

so these are the main questions you should consider:

1- user interest beside time
2- brand language vs market language
3- original design strategy

^forgot to log

a better project might be to come up with a new way to display time besides the ways we currently use- you could base it on cognitive research, and create new styling from your findings.

you might get some inspiration from the timex competition too

Go work in a watch store for a while. Try to find a busy one that has a very diverse mix of customers. Perhaps at a tourist destination in a major city. Once you get hired, just watch people and see their reactions when they try on different styles. Also, pay close attention how the store organizes their product in the display in addition to the gategories around the store. You’ll notice people usually ask first: “how much for that one in the upper left?”…then…“Can I try that one on”(pointing through the case)

When I worked at a watch store, Diesel seemed to be the “coolest brand” and timex and fossil were the two “normal” brands. Diesel always got the most attention.

You could probably call one of these stores and their computer will have all the info you need! Just be creative on the way you get it.

Watches are every interesting, have fun!

That gets at one aspect of watch ownership that is very relevant to the design decisions: the purchase process.

But try talking as well to some people who worn the same watch for many years. What are the qualities that make it enduring? What are the barriers to them adopting a new watch?

And compare that with people who own many watches which they change regularly; a casual fashion accessory versus a personal identity item.

And, if you want to do “design research” and not “market research” you would want to look at people that don’t wear watches as well. What are their objections? How do they deal with getting information about time (the nominal main value of the watch; but nicely questioned by some of the above posters).

Talking to real people is great; but you need to think hard about what type of people to find in order to get at the issues that will be generative to you. Talk to them before you have any sketches - understand the issues, the barriers, the drivers, the motivators, then talk to them after you have sketches to see what resonates and what doesn’t.

Great thread!

As you can see by the replies, your simple question can take you to defining the entire design process. The posts form SteveP, yo and Q take to how the total process should happen. If I go to your original question, how do I do research purely on aesthetics, I would call that a preference test and it is a very tactical part of the entire process. Hopefully, you have determined what ufo had written on his post about the brand or positioning strategy. This will define who, what, where and why about the end user (the watch for a 6-year-old girl who is into dancing will be different than the watch for a 63-year-old fisherman). You can do exploratory or directional research before any ideas are formulated to better define the strategy you wish to pursue. Now that you have defined your strategy, you use those drivers to form your ideas of the different aesthetics appropriate to the strategy. Then, I would use a web-based research tool to conduct the preference test. If you recruite your target audience, I have found it is easier to to let them look at the images at their convenience and pace. Some web-based research tools will automatically tab the results and send e-mail notifications. Some let you do basic research for free.

Perhaps this forum http://www.pmwf.com/ will have some insights about the watch market?

I am very grateful for all help. Thank you all!
Now I’m gonna “digest” the information above and start the process. Maybe I’ll show the result of my work here at the forum in late May.