Finding the right tunes
AB Inbev X-KTV

The leading multinational beverage and brewing manufacturer, AB InBev, has reached out to mediaman for a reformulation of its interactive KTV table. This request was prompted after unsatisfactory results from user response after the first generation product was launched.

Project Intro

Our long-term client AB Inbev, the largest brewery in the world, invited us to innovate the space that hosts one of the most popular Chinese entertainment activities: KTV (also called Karaoke).

The lounge experience should be enriched with a smart table. A prototype had already been launched earlier but received low acceptance from consumers.

As a consequence, AB Inbev was looking for a deeper assessment of the prototype and guidance for the next generation of KTV smart tables.

More importantly, every decision made in the design process of the next generation table would require rigorous testing and user acceptance, before getting launched.

One of our first steps was to conduct field research in 21 KTV entertainment centers located in Shanghai and Guangzhou, supplemented with separate one-on-one interviews. This would help us to understand the consumer perspective and finally create innovative concepts and a positioning for this product.

A point, drawing out a world

What role does this table really play?

Initially, we only knew of very few actual users’ needs in this area. Innovation for KTV lounges is still a blank sheet and has no market precedent. We had to create and validate on our own.

But while we went deeper into the world of KTV, we realized a number of stakeholders, all with different purpose and motivation.

At the core of the interaction, we have the consumers and the actual smart table. But the KTV experience itself, the developers and sales people were part of this ecosystem, too. Lastly, the context was widened one more step and included service personnel and processes as well as the management of such establishment.

Different perspectives define different needs

Each stakeholder group comes with their particular needs: While the management hopes to boost consumer spending, the actual visitors show interest, but do not engage deeper with the smart table. Service personnel is usually not skilled enough to instruct users on how to interact with the table, leading to further frustration. Lastly, AB Inbev interest is to sell more beverages through such technology. Each stakeholders interest are closely linked to each other, but the key of all is to get users to actually use the table.

From product strategy to redesigning the interactive features – together this showcases an all-new initiatives that highlight AB InBev’s unique brand experience.

Data does not always tell the truth

Looking for the core breakthrough points of our table, we had to dig deep into our user’s needs. Our data research unveiled quite a few interesting phenomena.

When interviewed outside of KTV rooms, only 50-60% of the interviewed persons claimed song and meal ordering to be important features, while 70-80% expressed interested in gaming activities.

However, when observing the users in KTV lounges, games were not popular at all, while the demand for song and meal ordering was high at 90%.

Why the contrast? People express their opinions bluntly, but they are also vulnerable to the impact of the environment and make different decisions.

In fact, their real demand is not "ordering a meal", but rather to "complete the meal ordering process more quickly", focusing on whether a system can improve the efficiency of meal ordering.

The game is the opposite, most users would be interested to play video games in a KTV lounge; however, the built-in games usually cannot meet most of the user’s expectations so their interest vanishes quickly.

As a result, we can only interpret the date in combination with the actual scenario. After our first research phase, we created a basic preview based on our results. We created questionnaires and two demo models for the second research phase, and finally completed the refining and cleaning of data.

Segmentation of user roles and their requirements

Our data results showed that a typical group visiting a KTV lounge included 20% Karaoke masters, 60% engaged members and 20% of silent spectators. Different roles determined a lot of differences between their needs, and we listed all of them, their pain points, divided categories, evaluated priorities, and eventually organized the information into a list of requirements to expand the solution idea.

We mapped a simple typical journey, and found touch points that might appear throughout the process based on this journey and research findings; we also marked what affected the user experience, as well as did function definitions based on the key issues.

Find real value for products

This is an innovative product, should there be no boundary in the end?

We discussed the definition of the table over and over again, from a small goal to a large direction, from target users positioning to demands summary, and constantly in doubt to overturn the previous conclusion. In the end, it was agreed that the upgrading of the intelligent function of the table did not have a real "pain point" for KTV; in other words, a table which can order meals doesn’t have necessary value points.

So, what exactly are the key points that can help KTV improvement? They are the amount of songs, sound quality, and KTV room environment, which namely defines the singing experience. Originally, the first version of products was positioned to create a "new experience", but the experience was based only on a "functional experience" rather than on "singing experience." Just like the TV program "I'm a singer" without singers and songs, it will lower down the atmosphere of the whole show if there is no light and dance.

So, what exactly are the key points that can help KTV improvement? They are the amount of songs, sound quality, and KTV room environment, which namely defines the singing experience. Originally, the first version of products was positioned to create a "new experience", but the experience was based only on a "functional experience" rather than on "singing experience." Just like the TV program "I'm a singer" without singers and songs, it will lower down the atmosphere of the whole show if there is no light and dance.

Eventually we decided to redefine what "new experience" could be delivered by the table: not intelligence, but instead making it more fun to sing in the KTV.

Keep the way how people are used to sing in KTV, but make the environment, songs, singers and friends more interactive. Define the table as a control terminal, equipped with projectors, lights, and even more external equipment to form a strong environmental interaction, to create a stage atmosphere. Evolve the overall feeling from focusing on singing, and helping to sing into enjoying singing.

Transfer ideas into the MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

With this positioning, a definition was quickly found for the first MVP: small enough to maintain the speed of development and iteration, fitted with interesting conceptual design to enhance product charm, with user value, to build a complete experience.

In the end, we extracted 4 features from a wide array to focus on, putting the rest of our energy into hardware development and software improvements. We wanted to avoid dealing with the inherent problems, and rather develop a complete new plan.

This is a bold attempt, but the key to an innovative product is not in its function, but in the definition of its core concept. Overlooking the role of the product in the environment from a higher angle will help us to expand our thoughts.

Project Team
Product Director

Demi Gong

Senior Business Consultant

Jack Fu

Information Architect

Kelvin Zhou