In honor of Earth Day, we dug into consumer behaviors and sentiments related to eco-positivity so that we could project opportunities for companies and consumers to make an impact on this planet we call home.

Sustainability is a complex issue, no matter how you dice it. There is no easy solution for brands, instead it’s a continuous journey for companies to thoughtfully show up. And as consumers, we have the responsibility to choose our actions and the brands we support to be part of the change.

This mini trend shares tips and tricks for companies and consumers to make an impact on our environment – not just for Earth month, but for every day of our lives.

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Choosing our favorite kind of client is like choosing a favorite kid.

We just recently stopped by Loyola University’s Quinlan School of Business (shout out to Stacy Neier Beran for inviting us – thank you, thank you, thank you!) where we left beyond inspired by Stacy’s Design Thinking students. Sure sure, the original goal might have been that we were there to inspire them, but we walked out the doors that day with a slightly different perspective on our work.

You’ve probably heard us talk about the ‘oh no’ and ‘a ha’ moments our clients come to us with (if not… well then!), but that day in class, an inquisitive student asked us which one of those states we desire to work in more. At first, the question took us by surprise, almost like asking which kid is your favorite, but it got us thinking. Do we have a preference? 

What We Love About an ‘A Ha’

Who doesn’t love when someone knocks on their door with a brilliant idea and asks if they want to be a part of it!? We for one have all hands raised on this one. We get introduced to so many incredibly smart and talented humans who are in the ‘a ha’ moment of their business – whether they have the next big product idea, received capital for the next phase or, like in the case of our work with Brilliantly, a desire to evolve with the biggest impact first.

What we love about an ‘a ha’ moment is that our clients come to us already at a ‘woohoo’ mindset on the scale of doom & gloom to excitement – and we feed off that energy! We love validating or refining someone’s genius to make it ‘ingenious’, but with an ‘a ha’, we also have to recognize it feels to them like it’s their baby. And sometimes what we learn when we bring that idea out into the world is that it isn’t needed, or won’t be successful in the way it was originally envisioned.

We did a quick exercise looking at all of our ‘a ha’ clients from PinPoint’s past, and of those, almost 47% of the ‘a ha’ ideas we’ve worked on would have failed if executed before listening to their audience. It’s never easy to tell someone their baby won’t thrive, but we’d be worse partners if we pretended it would and watch it flounder later. That being said, of the almost 47% we had to confront with not-so-great information, all of them did something about it and refined their offering so that 100% of them have come out the other side with revenue, impact and sales growth. Oh the ups and downs of an ‘a ha’…

What We Love About an ‘Oh No’

We’ve seen a lot of ‘oh no’s, especially since March of 2020. Everything from companies coming to us because of a drastic loss in sales to others fearing the end is near, or, like in the case of our latest work with Carbon Arc, knowing they were missing opportunities to better serve and connect with the community, but not knowing how.

We get it, no one wants to label themselves in an ‘oh no’ moment, especially when it comes to business, but sometimes this is the most exciting and pivotal moment for a company. Truth be told, if we could wave a magic wand and grant every business owner/manager a life without ‘oh no’s, we wouldn’t

What we love about an ‘oh no’, for better or worse, is that when in that dark business cloud appears, there’s not only a desire for change, but a need for change. We did another quick exercise looking at all of our ‘oh no’ clients over the years and 95% of them landed in that dark spot because they became too insular – looking inside the business for answers instead of out. When we show up and flip the whole process on its head by going outside the business to find solutions, more often than not our ‘oh no’ clients are the most eager to jump with us. And truth be told, who doesn’t love it when you get a new friend to dive into your favorite process in the world with!? 

In that 92% of ‘oh no’ clients we’ve helped look outside their comfort zone, 100% of them come out the other side with more loyalty, more customers or more sales. And that’s why we love an ‘oh no’ moment, there is power in recognizing the reality of where you are at that very moment, and being brave enough to shift it.

What’s Your Favorite?

So now we’re going to be that inquisitive student and ask the question right back to you – between an ‘a ha’ and an ‘oh no’, what do you prefer? Maybe you experienced it either in business, maybe in life, maybe while crafting your own set of Bernie Sanders’s inauguration-day mittens during Covid. Wherever you were, whatever you were doing, we want to hear from you because the more we know, the more we grow (yep, we’re that cheesy) – grab a coffee and let’s chat!

The term ‘CleanTok’ and ‘cleanfluencer’ has exploded in 2022 – expanding our perspectives on what it means to be clean in a post-pandemic lifestyle.

New cleaning routines are going above and beyond stain-removing tips and instead focusing on the long term life of beloved furniture and objects.

With more people than ever saying they ‘enjoy cleaning’ (shocking, we know), this mini trend explores how we might lean into these evolved behaviors and develop meaningful, stress-relieving habits that connect mind & home.

Check out this post on Instagram.

Why we use quantitative research and what it even means.

For those of you who have worked with us, or talked with us, or maybe just follow us on Instagram, you probably know we’re fans of data. We love a good number, we are inspired by stats and we find facts, well, fascinating. But truth be told, we weren’t always this way.

Back in the day, we were solely ethnographic researchers meaning we listened not to numbers, but to people. Don’t worry, we absolutely still listen to people, but when that was our only means for research, we found ourselves in a guessing game wondering if we were even talking to the right people. In the pre-PinPoint days, we would sit around a table and make assumptions about who we thought our client’s audience was. 

The thing is, sometimes our guestimates were spot on, but there were many other times when they were not. One in particular stands out – a restaurant chain who was looking to better understand their guests in order to evolve their menu, their service and of course grow their ROI. Problem was, when researchers & leadership guestimated their target audience to be ‘middle-aged families’ who they claimed to see most often in their restaurant, the research resulted in less than enticing results with little-to-no actionable steps. What was completely missed were the customers not seen inside their walls – those who ordered online and even more so, those who weren’t even customers yet!

Seeing that misalignment over and over got us thinking there had to be a better way to recruit research participants for qualitative insights. We were fortunate enough to work alongside a data analytics company previous to PinPoint who taught us the power of numbers. That experience led us to define our own PinPoint process where we now start every project with quantitative data (aka. the numbers – % of demographics, $X spent) to guide our qualitative insights (aka. why are they spending $X and what were the decisions that led to it).

Now, we’re not the Neilsen’s or McKinsey’s of the world, nor will we ever claim to be. And quite honestly, we don’t intend to work with the companies who can afford those large dollar partners (we’re pretty over making the Fortunes more fortunes!). So while we’re not the specific individuals out there doing deep data scrubs of credit card purchases or internet usage or census results, we do have access to elements of those scrubs and with that access comes a heck of a lot more knowledge than we ever used to have. 

Our data spans from dollars spent by zip code to generational preferences to industry-specific purchasing behaviors. This is the type of data that allows us to paint a much more intelligent picture of current & future customers – a recipe card per say for recruiting people to tell us what the numbers don’t say (aka. what is provoking 41% of adults aged 30-59 to increase the number of days they drank heavily in 2021 – lots to unpack there!).

At the end of the day, our goal is to give companies who care enough about their community access to that community. We intend to leave this world a more equitable place than the way we found it. Our belief is: through data we become more informed – creating understanding and empathy, and with empathy comes change. That is what drives us and what led us to our Pin Process – guaranteeing a deeper, more factual, more empathic understanding of who you serve and how to serve them better… without the unattainable price tag! 

On a mission to better serve your community? Ever wondered how to find the right people to talk to before making a big investment? Just want to hear more absurd facts like ‘more than 80% of gamers eat while playing’? We got your back – grab a coffee and let’s chat.​​

Just about a year ago, we talked about the ’Shecession’ and Covid’s disproportionate impact on women – especially Black, Brown and young.

Well, friends, we hate to say it but not a whole lot has changed. And if the past year has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t wait around for the big guys to make it happen.

To date, the women’s movement has celebrated female power, strength and resilience, but in a world that continues to thicken around us, a new wave of women are choosing to connect with their femininity in novel and more intimate ways.

This mini trend explores the continued implications of the pandemic on women and how small actions can make big impact.

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Reflecting on our purpose

The end of one year and the start of the next is always a prime moment for reflection. I know you’re going to be shocked when we say this, but we were no exception to the reflection jam! During the last three weeks, we took some serious time to look back on our Founders story, why we started PinPoint in the first place, how our work to date laddered up to that vision, and began projecting on how to more thoughtfully execute our purpose in our everyday actions.

Since there are a few new faces in the crowd, here’s a brief review of how PinPoint came to be:

Faith – an actor who spent more than half of her life “walking in other people’s shoes”- ran into Stacy – a recovering architect wanting to design for people over ego – at one of the most prominent human-centered research & design agencies in Chicago. Together, they followed each other around for upwards of ten years until they realized they could – and should – do more than grow the fortunes of Fortune 500s. 

As Faith describes it, they locked themselves in a room only allowing themselves to apply human-centered design methods TO the human-centered design field until…. TADA! PinPoint was born. And with it came a new purpose. By (their) definition, human-centered design is the process of listening so deeply to the people you are creating for, that you have no other choice than to design with empathy vs. ego. That’s what PinPoint was made for – as a means to approach people as individuals and incorporate underrepresented voices into the design process so their context and needs could directly influence businesses that cared to listen.

Fast forward, PinPoint is nearly 3.5 years old and during this time of reflection as 2022 kicks itself off, we once again locked ourselves in a room (this time, it was a magical cabin in the woods of Wisconsin with our business coach) and took a long, hard look at ourselves in the mirror. What we learned was that since PinPoint’s initial days, we had both honed our purpose, but also steered away from it. We let ourselves get excited by some shiny objects that didn’t necessarily align with our ‘why’. And at the same time, we have found dynamic words to finally articulate what our ‘why’ is. 

Perhaps the greatest gift coming out of that blustery cold cabin was finally writing on paper PinPoint’s purpose and values. No longer are they strewing about in our heads, but rather they are the north stars our co-founders, our team, our clients and even our research participants can strive for. We promise over this next year to share all of our values with you in detail, but until then we’ll leave you with our purpose. 

We, PinPoint, are on a mission to create more inclusive communities.
And we promise to shape a better future with great research that incorporates underrepresented voices who deserve to be heard.

We hope you share that mission. We hope you signed up to receive these tidbits because of that. And we also hope you find your own purpose and values that drive you day in and day out. Whether or not you share ours, know someone who does, or need help to define your own, we’re always down for a coffee talk. We hope you join us.

We are the first to raise our hands and admit we (ie. pretty much our whole PinPoint team) are plant parents. I mean, we even named our very first office plant – his name is Frank and he’s the most courageous fig leaf you’ve ever seen.

Although we started collecting plants before the pandemic, the shift in working from home and induced everyday stress propelled an already strong plant market forward. In Axiom’s 2022 Gardening Survey, 62% said they will be planting more in 2022 including 76% of Millennials.

This mini trend uncovers how plant parenting has evolved, what that means for your own planting etiquette and how brands can support the ever evolving needs of plant parents.

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Well, friends, it’s almost that time of year when we need an interesting tidbit to throw out at the ole’ holiday party. So instead of our normal trend report this month, we thought we’d compile some fun facts to be the most interesting person at New Year’s. Enjoy!

Check out this post on Instagram!

Collective giving, the PinPoint way

As you can tell from our letter above, this past week we were given the rare moment to reflect on just how thankful we are for all the guidance, trust and cheerleading that our support network has generously provided to us on the daily. We hope that you and yours were also gifted a moment to pause and be present with one another. We don’t know about you, but when given the space to truly reflect, recognize and absorb all of that appreciation – we find we have so much more clarity about what really matters. It fuels this deep need to want to give back to others. 

So with that in mind, we will take a different approach to our typical newsletter. This month we will keep our PinPoint Post brief, we will refrain from speaking to our silly donut obsession, and most importantly we will change this from a one way communication channel to a powerful call to action.  

As a way to reimagine the ‘traditional’ holiday client gift, PinPoint will be supporting GirlForward, a Chicago-based non-profit dedicated to creating and enhancing opportunities for girls who have been displaced globally by conflict and persecution. PinPoint will be giving in-kind donations via this wish list we curated from recommendations shared by the organization. Our Collective will come together to wrap and drop off all gifts collected by December 20th, 2021.

PinPoint will be donating on behalf of ourselves and our Collective. However, we would be grateful for your support. Simply select an item from the list you would like to donate, check out, and all gifts will arrive at PinPoint’s studio to be hand wrapped and delivered to GirlForward in time for Christmas. Something not on the list that you would like to donate? Simply send it to our studio at 3717 N Ravenswood Ave Suite 208, Chicago IL 60613. We appreciate your support, thank you. 

Want to inspire us by talking about what community or causes align with your mission? Want to make space to just pause and reflect to find things we appreciate together? Then let’s chat and find ways to show others some well-deserved support, empathy and inspiration.

Design with diversity, for diversity

Since the conception of PinPoint, we have prided ourselves on being a company ever evolving. None of this “signed, sealed and delivered” attitude (*although we love a great Stevie Wonder jam*), but rather embrace and appreciate that everything from our process to our team to the space we work in are, and should be, ever evolving.

We would be lying if we said this perspective wasn’t tiring, or many times, overwhelming. But in all honesty, most of the time it’s enlightening, inspiring and fueling. One of the core themes we have discussed at length with one another, fellow colleagues, and our Collective is around the definition and methodology of ‘human-centered design’. Besides the convoluted issues that come when a phrase such as “human-centered design” finds itself on the ol’list of buzzwords, we also believed there was a better way to express what it is we do, and more importantly believe in. 

Over time, we’ve been able to put words to our beliefs. Most importantly, we can now communicate what resonates and what doesn’t resonate with the phrase ‘human-centered design’.
 

  • Typically, ‘human-centered design’ refers to humans as ‘users’. We don’t know about you, but we don’t walk around the world saying we’re ‘users’. Instead, we’re ‘people’, ‘community members’, ‘part of a larger audience’ – that needs to be refined.
  • ‘Human-centered design’ has always, will always, advocate for a ‘nothing about us without us’ methodology. No policy should be decided by representatives without the full and direct participation of the members it affects – HELL YES. But…
  • Oftentimes, ‘human-centered design’ allows researchers and strategists to put themselves at the center of understanding. Yes, we may in fact be ‘a human’ that is part of the community we’re researching, but it’s important to hold ourselves accountable to look beyond our own lived experiences and approach every problem objectively. Otherwise, we prioritize our own biases and that’s unfair to the community we’re serving. 
  • Last but not least, one of the core tenants of ‘human-centered design’ is to empower iteration – nothing is precious. HCD encourages participants to prototype, break ideas and come up with crazy new ones. But too often, those learnings remain tribal knowledge and processes remain static. Screw that – the more we share, the more we learn, and the more iterative our processes become, the better we can serve the communities we value most.
     

For example sake, the following is a small sampling of statements that come directly from our Code Of Ethics. Every one of our employees and Collective members signs and agrees to these ethical guidelines designed to advance the quality of our organization. They are meant to provide general principles in which we will all stand for both individually and collectively:

Know our audience.
As impactful designers, in order to know whether we are solving the right problems, we need to meet the people who are having them. We strive to ensure those people are represented. The more we can reflect the audience we are designing for, the more thoroughly we can solve the actual problems they have. We will come at a problem from different points-of-view, from different backgrounds, from different sets of needs and experiences. That is the only way we will design meaningful and impactful solutions for our world.


Beyond the middle.
For years, people who weren’t in the majority were called ‘edge cases’ and marginalized. By subtracting the needs and opinions of those ‘edge cases’, we are making a decision that those people aren’t worth solving for. When we call someone an ‘edge case’, we’re defining the limits of what we care about. This can come in the form of immigrants who want to open a bank account and can’t get paperwork in their native language. This impacts the person in a wheel-chair who can not serve themselves at a buffet. This impacts gender fluid people who have no appropriate box to check on forms when applying for most anything. They are not ‘edge cases’. They are human beings and we owe them our best work.


After 3.5 years of the realizations above, it occurred to us that perhaps we needed new verbiage to accurately represent our approach beyond ‘human-centered design’. So with that in mind, we are proud to introduce our appreciation and adoption of….(*cue drumroll please*)…. Equity-Centered Innovation!

That’s nice, ladies (you might be thinking) but what exactly do you mean by that? Well, great question! Whereas equality means treating everyone the same, equity means providing everyone with what they need to have the same chance at success – and that only happens when we approach people as individuals and amplify their voices. As we learned above, it’s no longer enough for executives to sit around a boardroom making decisions based on what they ‘THINK people want.’ That’s what we’re here to change. Equity-centered innovation advances underrepresented audiences by incorporating their voices into the design process, allowing their voices, context, and needs to directly influence goals and outcomes that they ACTUALLY need.   

Motivated by the evolved movement? Ready to learn and collaborate with your audience to be confident they have seats at your table? Let’s chat over a donut of course about your audience, your understanding of their existing needs, the solutions you have already provided and, like us, where you want to continue to evolve your business!