A $4 grocery store challenge: Design a smartphone holder

November 18, 2015

We recently decided to have a bit of fun with a contest to design a smartphone holder.

To make this just a bit more challenging the ground rules specified:

a) You could only use materials commonly found at your local grocery store.

b) You were limited to spending a maximum of $4.

We love this sort of thing here. In our innovation work, it’s often useful to intentionally impose unexpected constraints or relax the expected ones just to see what unexpected things might result. So this sort of challenge makes for an interesting contest.

Plus it’s a lot of fun. It’s also a chance to get our families involve in a bit of the design process and a bunch of the entries (including the winner) were done by and with kids.

In the spirit of continued exploration, we also used a software technique called MaxDiff to judge the contest. MaxDiff is a quantitative survey approach our research team sometimes uses for obtaining preference/importance scores for multiple items. The cool thing about MaxDiff is that it gets to BOTH rating and ranking. Traditional surveys generally struggle with this.

In our innovation work, it’s often useful to intentionally impose unexpected constraints or relax the expected ones just to see what might result.

‘Ranking’ surveys do not get to the relative appeal since you have no way of knowing if the first-ranked item was virtually identical to the second or twice as popular. ‘Rating’ surveys suffer from all sorts of rating biases where respondents have a tendency to ‘rate’ all sorts of concepts uniformly high or low. MaxDiff uses that clever head-to-head methodology and some cool math to arrive at BOTH rating and ranking.

Here are the final entries for our contest along with some images from the development of one of the more thoughtful ones. Which one do you think should have won?