Gregory Wells and Professor Adrian Pulfer, Visual Arts
Graphic Design is a practical art. It is a vehicle for communication. Or, more precisely, it is the creation of the vehicle of ultimate impact for a specific purpose. Unfortunately, this fact tends to relegate design to a relatively late stage in the development process. Designers are commonly consulted only after executives have conceptualized the product, identified the target market segment, and made feasibility decisions. My goal for this project was to make graphics an integral part of the research and development process from the beginning; to make informed business decisions regarding the launch of a new concept restaurant in Provo based on a holistic vision of space, color, light, and line.
This report summarizes the research phase of a project which I hope to put into actual production in the near future. To protect intellectual property and avoid posting my entire business plan on the Internet, the following will be a generalized account of the research methodology I used in integrating design considerations into the product development process.
The inspiration for this project grew out of my personal love for two things that I felt the Provo/Orem area was lacking: (1) a specific type of “light” food; and (2) soul-satisfying ambiance. Typically, market research begins with an attempt to gauge the demand which will determine supply. Truly new products, however, for which no demand currently exists, must either tap a deep unmet need or otherwise create demand through the careful design of a new paradigm. My restaurant aims to do both: to tap the universal need for companionship and create a lasting association between a certain type of food and good fellowship. Proceeding from the thesis that eating is fundamentally a social experience, I intended to design an environment that is conducive to, even a catalyst for, unhurried and intimate conversation. In short, I am creating a “hang” based on an original paradigm of a particular food. Thus, in the same way that ice cream means “a date” and pizza means “a party,” I envision my food equating to “conversation.” The entire ambiance of the place, built around this food, will mean “a bunch of friends gathered together for some good times,” and say, “relax for a bit and enjoy the company.”
I have decided to target the student population ages 18-29 as my target market due to the nature of my food, the size of the population, and my affinity and understanding of the psychology of that segment. Thus, my market research began with an interrelated study of the demography of my target market segment, the current offerings and design decisions in the “light” foods arena in Provo/Orem and other cities, and the psychology of companionship, its physical and gastronomical factors for a population aged 18-29 years. With that background in mind, I then made a study of successful creators of paradigms, such as the NIKE company, Coca-Cola, Starbucks Coffee, and political propaganda campaigns such as were developed for the Third Reich. I researched and catalogued academic studies of lighting, space, color and design in clubs and restaurants. I will also be producing a survey instrument, tailored by my findings to date, to be used this fall in clarifying the specific preferences of my target group. Although additional data will continue to impact and refine the details, I believe the results of my research to date support my concept from a business standpoint: the demographic data show a target market segment with ample discretionary income and susceptibility to a new paradigm of food and conversation. I have made a preliminary site selection, drawn up numerous sketches for remodeling, identified sources for materials and construction, and gathered information on financing.
Selected Results and Research Sources
According to data from National Decision Systems, 35.8% of Provo/Orem’s population is in the 18- 29 years age bracket. This equates to a target market segment of 72,000 people within a seven mile radius of the proposed site for my restaurant. Within a one mile radius of my site, 60.9% of the population is in my target age range, with the median age for the area being 23.26 years. 53.89% of the population is single, which would suggest a higher rate of entertainment sought outside the home. 75.05% own one or more vehicles. With adequate parking, proximity concerns should be minimized by the high rate of individual mobility leisure focus. According to a 1992 study specific to the BYU community, median student monthly discretionary income was $233.00. A break down of typical spending in a 30 day period finds: 83% of the student body purchase food or drink from a fast-food type restaurant; 60% purchase food or drink from other restaurants; and 58% buy food or other items from convenience stores. Given the strong economy since 1992, I expect discretionary income to be even higher today.
In addition to making site visits to and collecting information on clubs, high-end bars, dessert parlors and other “hangs” in cities such as Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Washington, DC, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, I interviewed the managers and/or owners of three successful businesses that got their start in Provo and Salt Lake City: Zuka Juice, Cup of Joe, and Galaxy Diner. While each of these businesses target similar markets, each has a distinct niche. I learned about their various efforts to create and maintain a “culture” tied to their products and establishments, their advertising strategies, and their use of design details in furnishings, signage, lighting and even glass etchings to create certain atmosphere and image. I also researched startup and overhead costs by talking to real estate, construction, legal and food service professionals.
Helpful studies in psychology, design, and architecture included: Frank Mahnke’s Color, Environment and Human Response (1996); Robert Lym’s classic A Psychology of Building (1980); Sarah Thorton’s Club Cultures: Music, Media, and Subcultural Capital (1996); Alan Hess’ Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture (1986); and Reynaldo Alejandro’s Restaurant Design (1987). I also enjoyed: Donald Katz’ Just Do It: The Nike Spirit in the Corporate World (1995); David Greising’s I’d Like the World to Buy a Coke: The Life and Leadership of Roberto Goizueta (1998); Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang’s Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time (1997); and Robert Herzstein’s The War That Hitler Won: The Most Infamous Propaganda Campaign in History (1978).