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Research Methods

*Update: Check out the entire project here

When prompted to gather research about grocery shopping, our group spent time brainstorming a wide range of ideas to find a more specific topic. After running through a stack of sticky notes, we noticed a lot of our questions related to people’s preferences in the experience (store size, time spent, amount of planning, companionship, etc). We realized each of us has a unique shopping style we felt was the “best”, and for that reason, there was no way we could design something to enhance the grocery shopping experience without doing research. That’s when we realized this would be a great topic to explore because we are sure to get a wide range of responses that will eventually inform our design solution. To put into a question: what do people value in a grocery shopping experience?

Cultural Probe

To design our cultural probe, we began by writing down all of the aspects of grocery shopping that someone could have a preference about. After organizing our ideas, we were left with 5 factors we would use to inform the 5 objects in our probe

First, we wanted to gauge how people feel about the act of going shopping. Do they find it relaxing, or is it a chore? For this topic, we created a small booklet with 4 words and are asking our users to spend one minute doing a word association for each

To learn about people’s store preferences, we thought to make something that would show us their diet. We included a paper plate and some crayons for our users to draw their ideal home-cooked dinner.

We wanted to get a feel for the type of food visuals that different individuals prefer. We found a couple of foodie Instagram accounts and are asking our users to choose their 5 favorite posts and place them into a small visual shopping cart

We decided to send our users to go shopping at Giant Eagle in Squirrel Hill to gather some information on their typical experiences going grocery shopping. This activity included a short worksheet with a couple of questions and a floor plan of the store on which we are asking our users to draw out the path they followed while shopping.

Finally, we included an additional task of taking some photos while at Giant Eagle. These will show us information like amount and type of items bought in one trip, clothing worn while shopping, and anything else they find interesting throughout the experience.

These probes were given out to 5 people with different backgrounds. Here is a quick overview of our participants:

Sarah: female, junior at CMU, majoring in logic and computations with a minor in computer science.
Nathan: male, junior at CMU, majoring in social and decision.
Anagha: female, sophomore at CMU, majoring in ChemE and BME.
Alice: female, Heinz graduate student, writer.
Kalie: female, sophomore at CMU, majoring in ChemE. 

Our packaging and design were intended to be playful and engaging. Our users are volunteers, so we wanted to make the tasks fun for them and insightful for us when returned in a week. 

We hope they’ll enjoy the cookies as a thank you for accepting the probe and that they’ll put thought into each activity. We are anxious to see what we’ll get back in a week. 

Julia Ainbinder