Extreme Users

How Avatars of the Future Can Shape Innovation

  • Danielle Hildebrandt
  • Hanny Hindi

Abstract

Qualitative segmentation is a blend of art and science. There are a variety of sampling methods researchers use to guarantee a pool of participants that is representative of their target market. But for innovation research, we suggest ignoring those squarely in the middle of your target market. Instead, look to extreme users who are indicative of the future. As William Gibson famously put it: “The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.” We believe that extreme users live where the future has already arrived. In addition, these users are more articulate about their problems or needs, and more likely to employ innovative workarounds and hacks. Extreme behaviors are powerful examples of human agency and the ability to challenge and transform dominant social structures. We will explore this framework with three case-study examples: Looking to transmen and transwomen for feminine care innovation, Hikikomori for future social spaces, and the Amish for clothing sustainability.

Author Biographies

Danielle Hildebrandt
Danielle Hildebrandt is a sociocultural anthropologist by training and has a variety of research experiences ranging from year-long ethnographic studies in rural and urban China to week-long prototyping sprints in the concrete jungle of NYC. Dani utilizes ethnography to explore the challenges and opportunities in changing consumer behaviors. Previously the Director of Consumer Insights at a tech-start-up, she now works with start-ups within Fortune 100 companies. She holds an MA in Sociocultural Anthropology from Columbia University and BA in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University.  
Hanny Hindi
Hanny Hindi is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Bionic, serving as a strategic advisor for startup CEOs and marketing and product leads in both consumer and B2B spaces. He is the co-author with David Kidder of The Startup Playbook, and with Matt Blumberg of Startup CEO.

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Published
2020-11-30
Section
Research Reports