William Gibson, speculative fiction writer and establisher of the subgenre ‘cyberpunk’ recently turned his attention to the ongoing, alarming realm of the present. Why, may you ask? Because only once you’ve deeply understood the present can you build towards a convincing future. On today’s menu, the food experience.

Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba

Consider how meals have changed over the last decade. Specialty internet devices with sensors, same-day grocery deliveries, boom of social media, millenials with a sustainability mindset. Mash it together and you get a story: a biochemist suddenly needs to go on a week-long business trip to Basel; the refrigerator talks to her and offers up two options, 1) have someone come pick expiring foods up within two hours or 2) use her expiring ingredients together to create a butternut bisque soup.

“I’ve always wanted to learn how to make a bisque soup. Let’s give that a go, Bixby,” she responds to the onboard voice assistant on her Samsung Family Hub smartfridge.

Let’s go on a food journey.
First stop, the bank account.

Millenials, by popularly accepted definition, were born somewhere between 1981 to 1996. A bemused, curious bunch, set apart by having grown up in an age of an Internet explosion. Their gentle vibe and mannerisms driven by social media, reinforcing their indepedent and tolerant views. Their bank accounts, in dire condition. “But they can’t buy a house. They don’t have any money—and yet there they are, buying $5 lattes everyday,” says a CNN host, “Why should companies even bother targeting a group with no disposable income?”

Source: Nace

During our series of in-home interviews, we found this to be true. Many didn’t have much saved—the data supports this, those born after 1988 have on average have a negative net worth, typically due to student loan debt. So not surprisingly, when Millenials cook for themselves or their families, they’re looking for meal options that are quick and affordable.

Other factors influence their everyday decisions: their busy multitasking lifestyles, need for social validation (defined by the things they do, emboldened by the recognition and praise they receive), and sustainably conscious mindset. All actions should be paired with positive change, whenever possible.

As the populace skews more and more Millenial (they’ll make up three-quarters of the world’s workforce by 2025 ), these values will soon shift the conversation; moreover, pocketbooks that will only open to brands that speak to them.
These these findings helped us develop three personas, ranging from experts to newbies looking to improve their cooking chops.

Single, an expert cook with a growing a following on social

‘DINK’ or dual-income no kids, is an inexperienced cook, mostly dines out

Cooks for his family and works part-time, usually wanting to eat fast
Within each’s food journey—from the spark of inspiration, to planning, to cooking, eating, and cleaning up—were areas for improvement. Some struggled to find the right recipes to cook and not losing it on their phone, others dealt with more physical space constraints its practical limitations when it came to cooking for family or friends. Pain points are a great place to start if you’re looking to invent something new. In the practice of service design, we use opportunity mapping to leverage the culmination of knowledge all at once to aid in making meaning and uncovering new opportunities areas. 

Multiple trend reports on tables. 100’s of Post-its on journey maps. Binders of competitors.
It’s messy in practice.
But it works.

Using those key opportunities, we strung together several storylines of how hypothetical services could be used—value propositions—an easy (and inexpensive) way to get valueable feedback early.

So we proposed 4 key propositions, all directly aligned to the values and our personas’ goals: 

    • Food as Medicine: Improvement through health and wellness using gut biome data
    • Chef’s Assistant: Connection and recognition through learning and sharing new skills
    • Good Eats: Transparency and self-definition through giving back and reducing waste
    • Remind and Save: Empowerment through saving time and money using kitchen sensors

“To my mind, you shouldn't have to pay to do charity.”

– User feedback on ‘Good Eats’ value proposition

We asked users in our second round of research to rank each value proposition from first to last. Interestingly enough, ‘Good Eats’ (our donations for credits idea) received first place, followed by ‘Chef’s Assistant,’ ‘Food is Medicine,’ and ‘Remind and Save.’

Excitement for ‘Good Eats’ came from the waste reduction, however, no one said they’d be willing to pay for that kind of service as many felt “you shouldn't have to pay to do charity.” The idea of having access to chefs in ‘Chef’s Assistant’ was attractive, as well as having smart tech features in ‘Remind and Save’ that worked to make cooking easier for beginners. Our ‘Food is Medicine’ concept which introduced the ability to connect your gut biome to recipe recommendations became a polarizing one—while the most innovative by a longshot, this concept also sparked concerns, understandably, regarding data privacy.

Using key features of the four initial propositions that resonated with customers, we brought all together under one roof: Samsung Food.

Introducing Samsung Food.

Delicous eats, powered by you.

We’ve fantasized about robots cooking for us and gourmet foods from microsized microwavable packages, but reality is food is meant to be experienced—the nuances of memory and identity, tolerance and discovery of different cultures, are bridged by this human need. Samsung Food is that experience, built on their technology and algorithms, to empower people to become better chefs for themselves and the environment.
Learn a new skill in-person or online with professional well-known chefs. Get personalized recipes based on your health preferences. Show off those skills—mash together clips and create slick recipe videos for your social feed.

Fast forward a couple years: Samsung’s smart fridges equipped with cameras can now recognize your available ingredients and suggest recipes. Unexpected travel? Don’t let food go to waste! Schedule someone to swing by your home to pick any soon-to-be-expiring items within 2 hours.

The service blueprint outlines the how Samsung Food’s user journey maps to supporting processes, partnerships, and technology.

Samsung’s success relies heavily on their placement on the field; masterful industrial design chops, a foothold in the smart home/mobile markets, and new acquisitions in machine learning and AI technologies. In order to leverage these strengths, it’s important to acknowledge things that aren’t working currently—namely an old school manufacturing way of working with lots of silos, making the scaling process of complex, cross-system services a bit of an impossibility.

And to help cut through the political tape, we helped prioritize new areas for research and development, by creating a technology roadmap to help with coordination amongst the disparate Samsung teams.

Tech evolution map for near term (now) to long term (3+years)

To build a community is to understand what people care about. Similar to Maslow’s heirarchy of needs, the foundation of community-establishment is simple: start with utility. By giving people with tools to become better cooks, you can slowly start to create a safe, trusted place for collaboration and sharing. Eventually, this can lead to improved self-esteem and that ever sought after holy grail, the sense of true belonging.

✺EY, Global Generations: A Global Study on Work-Life Challenges Across Generations (2015)