Project Overview

Monster Cable Prolink products were created by laser fusion design engineer and company founder Noel Lee. The cables were developed over 35 years of innovation and tinkering and use advanced proprietary audio technology that delivers the full tone of your instrument.

ROLE: Art Director/design, Brand Manager, Researcher

Problem Statement

The challenge was that this technology could be difficult to wrap your head around. For years, sales assistants and pro audio customers struggled to understand the feature sets of Noel’s innovative application specific instruments cables. This confusion led to an assumption that the proprietary technology was just hype.

The Goal

To use new methods to educate the customer and demystify the product’s proprietary technologies providing tools to better understand the feature sets and validate the premium price point.

The Design Process

DISCOVERY

DISCOVERY

This phase focused on understanding the pro audio customer’s behaviors, needs, and motivations.

Research confirmed that the complicated technology behind the cable created confusion and lowered the customer’s confidence in the product. It also revealed that customers wanted to know technical information about their gear. Interviews identified the challenges of buying a cable in a saturated marketplace where all products look the same and feature sets listed on packaging didn’t always clear the air.

Quantitative Research

The Survey – A group of fifty pro audio enthusiasts including Guitar Center sales associates, Monster endorsed artists, and local bay area musicians were surveyed on their experiences, pain points, and buying habits. The primary user group were identified as 18 to 40 year old committed musicians.

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Age Groups

Gender

Musical Experience

Buying Habits

Yearly Music Budget

Time Researching Gear

Qualitative Research

The Interviews – To gain deeper understanding of our customers’ feelings through direct observations, we interviewed a crosscut of our test group on their experiences and pain points of being a pro audio consumer. These interviews helped us understand user behaviors, attitude, and experiences.

Interview goals

  • Finding out the current journey of discovering and shopping for cables.
  • Finding the pain points of users in context of discovering and shopping.
  1. Do you prefer buying online or in stores?
  2. What do you dislike/dislike about shopping in stores for music gear?
  3. What do you like/dislike about buying gear online?
  4. What are your pain points when shopping for cables?
  5. How many pro audio purchases do you make per year?
  6. What is your yearly budget for pro audio gear
  7. What turns you off to a product?
  8. How important is packaging in your purchase decision?
  9. Do you seek help when buying accessories in-store?
  10. What gives you confidence that you’ve chosen the proper cable?

Key Insights

After conducting interviews, we learned that customers have little knowledge of cable technology and are typically drawn to a purchase based on price and user reviews. They would rather hold and touch the product as opposed to buying online.

They also feel that Guitar Center sales associates do not seem to know or understand the feature sets. They typically add more confusion and lower the customer’s confidence in paying the premium price point. In many cases, the result was buying a cheaper cable on the assumption that they all are going to break anyway.

DEFINE

DEFINE

Personas

Personas were created to understand our customer’s needs, experiences, behaviors, and goals. This brought more clarity as to who we were designing for and helped us simplify the ideation process to understand which issues and data points needed to be addressed.

Olivia

Beginner musician, Student

Age: 18

Location: Livermore, CA

Olivia loves listening to streaming top 40 music and has always wanted to start her own band. Her parents gave her a Fender Squire Stratocaster on her birthday and now she needs to complete her rig. She’s an A student who is focused on her studies and getting into a good college. She has limited budget for gear.

“I love Guitar Center, but feel intimidated as a beginner. I’m too shy to ask questions. I’m scared someone is going to hand me a guitar and make me play something.”

Goals

To learn enough to play in a band with neighborhood friends.

Frustrations

Buying the wrong gear because of her lack of knowledge.

What she wants

To know more about the stuff she’s buying so she can make good purchase decisions.

Paul

Local performing musician, Software Developer

Age: 23

Location: San Francisco, CA

Bio: Paul plays with his punk band at local bars and house parties. He listens to vinyl and loves anything to do with punk subcultures. With a limited budget, Paul tries to get the most out of his gear. He has basic technical knowledge and can field repair cables. He watches lots of gear reviews on YouTube before making equipment purchases.

Gear fails are the worst! I have had too many of them while playing shows around town. I wish my gear was more reliable so I can focus on the music.

Goals

To have solid gear that does not break

Frustrations

When expensive gear breaks on stage.

What he wants

Reliable gear at a reasonable price.

Geoff

Touring Musician, Blogger, Influencer

Age: 35

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Bio: Geoff has been playing for most of his life. He tours regularly with his band that is signed to a major label. They record new albums every two years and will tour in between. He is an expert instrument technician. He is a vintage gear fanatic and has invested a lot of money in classic instruments and amplifiers.

“My tone must be perfect for my audience. They paid money to come see me play and it’s my responsibility to give them a good show and consistently sound my best.”

Goals

To continue his career as a professional touring musician

Frustrations

Gear that doesn’t enhance his tone in studio or on stage.

What he wants

Convenience due to limited available time for shopping

Empathy Mapping

Competitive Analysis

A competitive analysis was performed to understand our competition in the channel. How many options did the customer need to choose from? Of those choices how did the competition stack up in regard to best, better, good offering and feature sets.

Data included: Who is competing for the same hooks, what product types/lengths they offered, feature set comparison, and pricing analysis.

Features

Pricing

Customer Journey Map

Affinity Map

IDEATE

IDEATE

Site Flow

DESIGN

DESIGN

Design System

Design System

Wireframing

Visual Design

TESTING

TESTING

Results

The Prolink cable finder was introduced to Guitar Center as a minimum viable product to test user engagement and viability for a more robust offering. Our trainers focused on how to socialize the tool with customers and how to use it to highlight and validate key feature sets.

Sales associates found that they were able to speak more confidently about the Prolink feature sets and used it to validate their explanation of the feature sets. The finder was well received as a helpful tool in building customer confidence and driving more unassisted sales.

Key Insights

Usability testing identified the following needs.

  • Elevate the level of visibility of the QR code functionality on POP and packaging to better socialize the tool.
  • Further simplify the technical jargon.
  • There was an opportunity to develop a tablet version of the finder to mount on POP displays.
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