User Research & Product Strategy for a New Product in the Dining Industry

Client: Kitchen Table App

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PROJECT SUMMARY

Kitchen Table wanted to leverage existing market research to validate assumptions for a new product in the dining industry.

About The Client

Kitchen Table provides a way to connect with new friends to share a home-cooked meal in a communal dining setting. Kitchen Table is a new product that brings together cooking enthusiasts with guests — either familiar neighbors or newcomers to the area — to dine together.

My Role
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Primary client liaison and user researcher on a 5-person remote team

Timeline
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This project lasted 8 weeks

Methods
  • Competitive Analysis

  • Audience Research

  • User Proto-Personas

  • Feature Value Matrix

PROBLEM STATEMENT

The founders needed to understand the potential audience base and validate their assumptions that this type of product was missing in the marketplace. 

USERS & AUDIENCES

The 2 primary audiences are hosts, either amateur or aspiring chefs, and dining guests with an equal love of food and community.

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Host
  • Cooking enthusiasts who enjoy hosting dinner parties
     
  • Seek to make extra money by doing something they enjoy
     
  • Have comfortable incomes
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Dining Guest
  • Solo travelers, neighbors, groups of friends, newcomers to the neighborhood
     
  • Seek social dining experiences outside of a typical restaurant or food-chain venue

RESEARCH PROCESS

8 Weeks to Validate the Kitchen Table Product & Audience

Research Timeline
The Process

STAKEHOLDER INTERVIEWS

Stakeholder interviews with members of the founding team revealed their desire to drive behavior change by creating a sense of community of food lovers.

Kitchen Table wanted us to determine if their idea of communal dining at home was more affordable compared to dining in a restaurant.

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1

Growth Strategy

There is a long-term plan to create partnerships in different cities to ensure each city has a certain number of hosts and meals provided each month.

2

Host Incentives

Entice hosts to post photos on Instagram to:

  • Get involved with charities in arts and culture

  • Promote Kitchen Table in food blogs

Role of Mobile During Mealtime

3

Though users may upload food photos during an event, the device is prominently used before and after.

Key Findings from Stakeholder Interviews

The Process

COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

A competitive analysis revealed gaps in the marketplace for dining products that cater to both aspiring and amateur chefs.

Kitchen Table offers more affordable options for dining guests from a range of chefs, from amateur to professional.

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Over 20 competitor products were reviewed
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  • Focused on the chefs

     

  • Charged higher price point per dining guest

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$50-75 
per dining guest

The existing products that were successful were globally-accessible apps that part of the gig sharing economy.

We then expanded our research to study the spending habits of people who:

Use products in the gig sharing space since it was new and expanding at the time.

Love to cook and host dinner parties to determine the potential return-on-investment for a Kitchen Table host.

The Process

AUDIENCE RESEARCH

Existing audience research and studies showed the optimal time to host parties, the ideal demographic to target, and how to drive hosts and dining guests to use Kitchen Table.

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Host
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  • What can Kitchen Table provide prior to meal to better prepare hosts (aware of conversation topics, parking, fear of dogs)?
     

  • How much would a host spend on ingredients?
     

  • What motivates a person to host a dinner party?
     

  • What is the price difference between an fast-food meal and a home-cooked meal?

Dining Guest
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  • How much do people spend on dining per month? 
     
  • What generation tends to spend the most on dining out? 
     
  • How often do people travel solo?
     
  • How much does food influence travel?
     
  • What is driving the popularity of the gig sharing economy?
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Our goal was to specify who would host a meal and who would attend a meal to build strong personas.

The Process

PROTO-PERSONAS

Developing user proto-personas identified what users must do to successfully accomplish tasks, such as RSVPing to a party.

Using the audience research findings, we developed 4 proto-personas that addressed the demographics and behaviors associated with hosts and dining guests.

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Details of a user proto-persona
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Maddie

User Critical Tasks

  • Create and post dinner party logistics (e.g., cuisine type, dietary and nutritional information, conversation topics, price per person, image)
     

  • Promote her hosting abilities and reviews from past dining guests
     

  • on her profile (including food photos, past meal photos, location photos, and reviews 
     

  • Screen diners for social compatibility and safety

Business Critical Tasks

  • Set up member profiles to show host user details, photos of location and previous meals
     

  • Display reviews by previous dining guests
     

  • Show social media profile links and mutual connections
     

  • Give users ability to accept/deny RSVP request before processing payment.

Creating personas allowed us to determine the level of interaction that users have with the app prior to the meal, during the meal, and after the meal.

This led us to identify and define key features and userflows for both audiences types

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The Process

FEATURE VALUE MATRIX

The most important features are compared among all personas so the developers can focus on building those features for the first iteration of the product.

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Prioritizing user critical tasks showed the importance for the app to provide specific features that provide people the ability to:​

  • See shared friends or social network
     

  • Screen diners for social compatibility and safety
     

  • Find hosts serving new interesting cuisines
     

  • Create and post dinner party event logistics

Based on our user research, the Kitchen Table App successfully launched the MVP in March 2017

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