Elu — Conscious Consumption Marketplace

Elu is a platform that showcases conscious local businesses and independent brands by highlighting the good that they are doing in sustainability. It also happens to be a personal project of mine — a startup actually. This case study showcases the group of the project from paper to reality. Considering my role as Project Lead, I had an enlarged array of responsibilities from business development to product development and strategy. Note that due to NDA, some product and business details cannot be disclosed.

Timeline: 9 month | Role: Designer | Project: Elu (visit website)

BRIEFING

Elu is focused on the consumption of green products and sustainable services. In this space, one can find sustainability-driven and responsible consumers who want to consume more in accordance with their morals and values plus conscious and sustainable businesses that offer corresponding products and services. The goal of this particular project was to create an MVP to be launched at a regional level in Beira Baixa’s province in Portugal. A prototype needs to be developed and we need to consider the needs of our users — both consumers and companies.

How migh we connect conscious consumers to sustainable businesses through a digital solution so that we promote conscious consumption?

RESEARCHING

INTERVIEWING

To explore the challenges that these actors experience in this scenario, we carried out 1:1 interviews with them— we spoke with people to understand difficulties they have with finding sustainable products and explore some ideas that could help them. This step was important to understand how they think, how they act and what is currently missing — thus, we created quick mock-ups that were used as the foundation for our discussions and learnings.

“When I buy things I want to do good, and not ‘do less harm’. I really want to do good. If I could know about an independent responsible store right around the corner, that would be great!”

PERSONA DESIGN

CONCEPTUALIATION

#Link to MVP

With our learnings from the interviews, we’ve created the concept for a sustainability marketplace that would help consumers find businesses that match their sustainability values.

In order to put our concept into test, first thing we did was connect conscious buyers with businesses that have sustainable practices & products, since this represented the basis of the whole proposition of the startup. The goal of this test was to check if this sort of information is what consumers are looking for and if they are indeed interested in searching for businesses based on their sustainable values.

Inherent to the value-connection survey, we’ve created a reward in the form of a pamphlet with the sustainable businesses in the region. We’ve noticed that 71% of the respondents that were associated with that region requested the map. Not only that, but we’ve also distributed the physical pamphlet across partners in the region to see if people would be taking them.

The results of this MVP showed the following.

  • People are not aware of the sustainable businesses that exist close to them and around them.
  • There is interest in finding businesses according to one’s values of sustainability
  • Information about sustainability of stores and their products drives individuals to consider the stores
  • Initially, 6 indicators were established and there was feedback of including two more: artisan and bio farming

PROTOTYPING

CONSUMER FOCUSED

With the learnings obtained through the MVP and also interviews, we moved on to create mid fidelity prototype. An assumption that we’ve made was that this platform should be desktop based, due to the fact that people most likely won’t have a lot of space in their mobile phones for a new app. When looking into the results, we’ve gathered 45 tests with average 3 min per session, which de facto makes the defined timeline for the test accurate. We can also consider that this number is representative.

BUSINESS FOCUS

The following test that was created was the showcase of the platform for businesses in order to further investigate what were the important aspects that would make them want to be part of the platform, and most importantly, what their struggles were.

This concept was carried out both in personal interviews and digitally. In total, we amassed 10 responses with 5 being done via interview and 5 digitally with companies in the energy, cosmetics, detergent and sustainable fashion sectors. Important to reference that these interviews were built on top of other ones that happened during the research phase. In these different topics, we can consider and pinpoint the following competitors which are going to give us a foundation for the mock-ups and package formulation that we are going to put into practice.

Considering this Competitor Matrix, we went on to analyse better the main characteristics of each of these players. This analysis made us more confident that we can enter a different market in which we are a directory of business and marketing channels. Simbiótico, our main competitor, has no standards or barriers for any company to enter.

RESULTS & OUTCOMES

The results of all these tests made the us confident to move foward with business development activities. The next step was that we could establish already a legal name, entity and also start promoting the business with a full-fledged landing page. For the landing, click in this link.

For consumers, we’ve noticed that during interviews, surveys and tests people mentioned an “app” despite the fact that we we’ve showed a desktop prototype. This is also very interesting because never mentioning if it is an app or platform, users are just drawn to this idea that it would be an app that they have in the phone. This is something that will require further exploration to know what will be the best way users will search for businesses and interact with them.

For the businesses, considering the various different types of feedback and responses received, it suggests that a sort of “subscription model” will fit better the business model. This is due to the fact that the nature of businesses differs and that, depending on their level of knowledge, they will value more some features than others.

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Rafael Martins

I’m a UX/UI Designer with 2+ years of experience in design thinking practices by conceptualising and crafting innovative services