Tuesday, April 09, 2013

STC India Conference

I had the pleasure of speaking about user research and social trends at the STC India, UX Conference. Here are the video of the event.

Conference site:
STC india

Social trends and innovation

Talk about the 3 types of trends that are Global trends, Consumer trends and Industry trends. Patrick Founder of explain how to utilize these trends to create new business design models. Social trends implemented in business design insure an optimal user experience and consumer satisfaction.

Presented by Patrick Roupin Founder of Kovent at the STC India - UX Conference held at Welingkar Institute of Management and Research in Bangalore.

User behavior Vs. User attitude in user research practice

How user research can be utilized to generate actionable design insights for business design innovation in emerging market. Kovent's business design methodology is presented in 3 fundamental steps of business generation.

Effective user research in emerging market

User research is part of Kovent's business design methodology for innovation in emerging market. In this video you ll find an overview of user research techniques and consumer segmentation mapping. Presented by Patrick Roupin Founder of Kovent at the STC India - UX Conference held at Welingkar Institute of Management and Research in Bangalore.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The future of automobile design at DYPDC

We did an interesting workshops with the students of DYPDC College in Pune which were mainly focused on social experiments.

What does design mean to you?
At the time I was studying at the Institut Superieur de Design, all projects were ending up with an industrial product or transportation design solution. Today’s user needs end up with hybrid needs that include industrial design solution but also a variety of other needs like communication, knowledge, social interaction.
Read the full interview on DYPDC blog.
Here is the workshop video:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Educational behavior for India rural consumers

Case study on educational behavior for India rural consumers by Kovent. It shows how business design can help your organization to reach local consumers' aspiration.

Presentation by Royston D'Sa check it out!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ethnographic design research in West Bengal

We finished our ethnographic design research with West Bengal. The preparation was very chaotic; we were having great difficulties to find people to interview. At last our friend Sunil Barik from Delhi introduced us to a wonderful couple from Kolkata who helped us very much.

Alike Tamil Nadu, West Bengal has a kind of self-sufficient social life where people enjoy local and regional relationship without the need for extending their relationship to other states or countries. Among the people we interviewed we found that they had less of interaction with other states or cultures. Nevertheless, Bengali’s are warm and welcoming people.

Arjun and Shankhamita, are youth entrepreneurs in Kolkata. They helped us in reaching people for our study, occasionally translating interviews in Bengali language. Arjun’s family lives at the centre of Kolkata. Their house is very pleasant and reflects the cultural richness of the family.

We have now taken more than 100 interviews in North India. Most of the time my wife, Melina conducted the interview in either English or Hindi for around 45 minutes. The quickest interview we took was for 22 minutes and the longest was more than 3 hours, but both interviews were rich and insightful. Time is not a factor.

During the interview I took down notes, recorded the conversation and took number of environment pictures. In villages, people use slangs what makes the communication difficult. In these cases, we took the services of local interpreters who participated to the discussion and corrected any miss-interpretations. For conducting the interview we had a large set of questions structured in such a way that we could get the key information at different levels of interview. This protocol is the fruit of extensive research and testing we did at the initial stage of our initiative.

Arjun is a kind of person who can appreciate anyone’s personality and views without judgment. He is a good human being and knows a huge diversity of people he meets across his business activity. We asked him to introduce us to various people from high to low level background, so that we could get a true picture of the Bengali population. Arjun is an excellent orator; realist by nature. I like very much the way he depicts his culture with coldness and admiration.

Bengal has been deeply influenced by the communist culture. Many people give importance to the government and do not like when you present your initiatives as “private”. That makes our research difficult since it is important for us to understand the aspirations of those people and how they want things to evolute. After they understand the social benefits of our project they were willing to speak.

We found Bollywood pictures very efficient to understand how people project themselves in future. What are their social aspirations and dreams? Sometimes people’s choices totally contradicted what they said in response to our interview questions and provided clues to understand the choc points.

Thanks to McDonalds for allowing us to interview 2 of their busy staff members. Awful things have been written about this company’s work culture; on the other hand we found their work culture as a positive impact on their staff’s willingness. Farah told us how her job has made her more confident in life. She has higher expectations towards the future and plans for a better life. In Kolkata also the corporate culture has an impact on people’s life.

It is difficult to finish an interview without a group picture. Children were inquisitive to know what we were doing around but it is always a pleasure to share our experience with them. Bengal would remain one of the best places we have seen in India.

We had the great pleasure to take the interview of Mr. S. K. Das who has been the MD, CEO of several group of companies in India. Mr. Das has passion for progress and prosperity for our country. He is an ardent writer. Quite of his writings, short stories, poems, articles on management have been published in leading journals and newspapers. He has also received awards in Delhi in 1991 and 1996 for excellence in Industrial Management. After retirement in 2002, he is associated with several groups as Chairman / Vice Chairman of Board of Directors. At the age of 73, he is still active and continues to advice industrialist and political leaders like Mr. Ratan Tata, Dr. Debesh Das. He also has the privilege of correspondence with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. Besides his career as a businessman, he has also helped more than 400 people in getting employment and means of subsistence through his association.

Sumit has a double Masters in History from a reputed university. He could work for some university or a multinational in Kolkata but he prefers to concentrate on what is really important for him. Sumit gives tuition of Indian history and spirituality. He takes only students who are really passionate about the subject and can appreciate the transcendental value of his teaching. Sumit told us how to re-interpret Indian classical history in the modern world. What lessons we have taken from Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and his disciples. He also paints and sculpts images of gods and deities according to the tradition of his gurus.

We would like to thank the below mentioned people who have enormously helped us in realising our research in North India:
Amit - Hyderabad
Arjun and Shankhamita - Kolkata
Arun and Maggie - Mumbai
Ashish and Monu - Jaipur
Saurabh’s family - Siyana
Sonam’s parents – Pune
Sunil - Bangalore
Sunil - Delhi

We meet hundreds of wonderful people from various backgrounds and culture. It is materially difficult to keep in touch with everyone but you stay in our hearts forever.
You all are most welcome to Bangalore!

If you would like to be informed about the publication of the North India Consumer Trends Report, drop us a line in this Kovent’s contact form

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Business opportunity in rural market

The word recession brings up huge emotions – fear, anger, sorrow. However, many top business people are still very positive towards the future and see the economical recession as a turning point for their business in the rural market.

Recently, The Economist Intelligence Unit and Dubai Holding published a white paper based on the views of the people who own and manage the world’s businesses; 418 senior business people around the globe. They found that 53% think the economical meltdown would positively impact their business in the next 5 to 10 years.

It is also interesting to see that more than 50% of these executives would give priority to product and geographical diversification in the near future. They do not specify what would be the new geographical market place but we can reasonably presume that it would be the BRIC markets.

Economy is a state of mind. It is like mass psychology and the time people take to recover from an economical recession actually depends of their exposure to the global economy. If you look at where the economic crisis has affected the industry, it is only the export oriented sectors and particularly the IT industry. The export sector is mostly served by the middle class in metro-cities. They are well known for having a lavish lifestyle and craze for quality brand experience. Today many shopping malls are deserted and the urban middle class has come back to the old fashioned saving lifestyle. Many shops have closed down and others are proposing huge discounts to attract customers.

Atria is one of those happening shopping malls you can find in Mumbai. Hundreds of international brands like Reebok, Swarovski, Guess all under one roof. Today, many shops have closed down and others are proposing huge discounts to attract customers.

Sunday market in Pondicherry has regained lots of popularity for the past one year. In towns and villages, the economy is still very positive. Would you get any feeling of recession in such place?

In the same paper from The Economist Intelligence Unit, Martin Fitzpatrick, Microsoft’s regional controller for South-East Asia, explains the benefits of reaching consumers who depend from the local economy rather than global. Rural consumers are used to economical ups and downs and can recover faster than developed economies. He says “The boom-bust cycle seems to be more readily accepted as a regular part of the economic landscape. I have grown used to the concept, this being my fourth cycle of boom and bust in less than ten years. Most companies and individuals seem to have effectively written off 2009 and are instead gearing up for a better 2010.”

Going beyond globalisation

The concept of economical globalisation has probably reached its end with the economical meltdown. It would have an impact on the way companies invest their money and people consume. There is a regain of interest for local and national products. People’s lifestyle and consumption pattern has drastically changed over recent years hence companies need to keep their design strategy in tune with the evolutions of the society. Create products and services that serve the Indian economy and identity.

Our company, Kovent helps businesses to understand Indian rural consumer’s mindset and consumption pattern. Our approach is different from other market research companies who rely on data and statistics. Our researches are based on qualitative design research and ethnographic insights. They reveal rural consumers needs, behaviours and desires through lifestyle scenarios. These scenarios will help you to understand which product speaks to their social aspirations. How you can capitalise on social trends to enhance your consumer’s experience and brand perception.

Kovent is dedicated to anthropologic design research that serves companies business objectives. As social issues enter the minds of today’s Indian citizens, we are integrating ideas such as sustainability and social responsibility into our researches.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ethnographic research in North India

Our ethnographic research took us to Siyana a small town located at 3.5 hours from Nizamuddin railway station. We were staying at my friend’s place whose parents live there. From the roof top of the house we could see the green belt that delimitates the town.

Most of the people in Siyana have small businesses; one of the main businesses was agriculture. Electricity comes few hours a day only. People who have better standard of living can afford to have invertor or generator to keep the machines and fans running. Of course, no one uses air conditioner as that would be too expensive. We had a walk around when we reached the town. We were not accompanied with any local fellow. People were looking very strangely at us since they understood we are not from the town. One person came and asked us where we are from? As we started speaking with him more people joined with 1000 of questions. We had to run away as our presence was generating traffic jam in the market. Still we had a nice visit and enjoyed interacting with the local population.

We started with our research the first day itself. The family who received us were very helpful in introducing us to people around. Being in a small town it was easy to reach a large diversity of profiles from business people to employees, teachers, workers, farmers, etc. In Siyana, people hardly get opportunities to speak with outsiders. So, they were very much interested to speak and know about us. Many a times it happened that youth guys came up to asked me to speak about my country. This made our work pleasant but longer since we had to establish trust and build relationship with people before starting any interview or field observation.

The first interview we did was in a small village around Siyana that caught the interest of everyone. Ayan the person we interviewed was comfortable in speaking in front of everyone. This type of interview shared with the community had an advantage.
It helped us in understanding the difference between individual motivations and what is commonly accepted by the group. More than anyone else, villagers need to justify their behaviour to the community they belong to. Ayan considered himself as a rich person since he worked for a corporate company for a couple of years. He explained to his community the social necessity of having a fashionable lifestyle working at ICICI Bank.

Villagers were explaining us the interest and necessity of having multiple sources of income in the family. Ayan cannot think of closing his business even if he gets a permanent job at ICICI Bank. “Job is a short term solution; you never know how long the company is going to run”.
Villagers have 4 to 5 regular businesses they pass on to each other as time and opportunities come. Basically, more you go at the bottom of the pyramid more the source of income is diversified. Since many people have lost their faith in the corporate world the small business thinking gains the interest of the overall population.

Middle class behaviour is quiet predictable in towns and villages. Being at the edge between modernity and tradition, middle class are pushed in developing strong ideas about what is good and what is bad. Mostly, they are well informed and leave less space to subjectivity.

At one evening we had the great pleasure to attending a party given for a new born baby. There was nothing traditional but Bollywood music, food and drinks… we all had great fun. Coming back home was an adventure since there was no light anywhere. We had to walk in queue behind uncle’s torchlight till we reached home.

After interviewing 34 people in towns and villages we went to Ghaziabad, New Delhi and Gurgaon. My wife Melina felt in love with Gurgaon shopping malls. The most happening place she found in India so far.

In towns and villages people’s lifestyle evolutes in a linear way. It is always a kind of compromise between tradition and modernity and the whole family follows a similar pattern with different level of understanding.

But in New Delhi people follow a pattern that is much more based on their individual life experience. People’s lifestyle is the fruit of a long process of individual liberation where personal reflection matters a lot.

“I have reached this level of thinking because of…”
“I had to change something about myself and I did it…”
“Knowledge is painful you can never stop rethinking the world around of you”

People have no fear in experimenting themselves to access to a better way of being. This long process for discovering the “Who am I?” is very much influential on their way of living.

Kovent’s North India consumer trends will speak about how the “Who am I?” attitude influences consumption pattern in North India. What are the keys factors to implement innovation and respond to consumer’s aspirations? Innovation always question consumers; our next report will provide you the right question for the right user group.

Family continues to occupy a central role in people’s pre-occupation. But, there also we found new behaviours in all layers of the society. We used a set of pictures representing Bollywood actors and actresses in different roles and personality. It is interesting to see how people reinterpret family values in today’s society. How they project their role model from the past to the future.

Our North India trip was a wonderful experience. We interviewed 83 peoples with 62 hours of recorded interview. There is a report available on

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ethnographic research in Maharashtra

We took the train from Chennai to Mumbai. It was a very long journey of around 24 hours. Our son Zaidin enjoyed waking-up in the train instead of his house with so much of people and noise around. He was happy being the attraction of everyone around for a day. Personally, I wanted to see the landscape between Chennai to Mumbai, what you can never see while travelling by plane. We went through so many small towns and villages, kilometres and kilometres of land totally deserted.

We reached on 23rd March and started interviewing people the next day. Since we lived in Mumbai before we were not surprised to see how different the interviews would be from South. Our researches in North India leave more space for individualism, intellectual reflection and dream comparatively to South India that always sticks to reality.

The interview protocol in North includes many subjects related to personality and self expression. We are still testing the relevance of our questions remotely before starting a long series of travel across the North Indian states. Thanks to Quillpad, the translation of our interview protocol in Hindi has become much easier.

The pre-research included 2 sorts of techniques focus group and individual interviews.

The place we are conducting the research is Kurla (West). Initially Kurla was a peaceful village away from Mumbai with beautiful residences and churches. As Mumbai grew, Kurla became part of Mumbai suburbs and Kurla got very much populated.

On one side of the village is the church, at the other side is the mosque. In between there is a couple of temples. Different communities co-habit easily with each other particularly the youth for whom friendship has no boundaries.

Children are doing their first communion these days at Holy Cross Church. There are many chapels in the village where people gather at the evening for religious activity and prayer.

These pavilions let you imagine the kind of lifestyle Christian people were having few decades ago in this area.

Most pavilions have been replaced by smaller habitation as the village got more populated.

Hindus have couple of temples in the village. Their population is lesser and mostly from Maharashtra.

The Muslim area is dominated by green colour. Even boards are written in Hindi and Urdu characters.
Near by Holy Cross Church, Kohinoor city is taking shape. The round tower is Kohinoor’s shopping mall. Behind will be the business centre and nearly 1500 habitations.

As of now there are very few people living in Kohinoor city that is still under construction. I am curious to see what the atmosphere will be after Kohinoor’s population joins the area.