Because of rapidly advancing technological innovations as well as the 2011 flood crisis in Thailand and other natural disasters in this world, gradually the behaviour of home-buyers has changed in recent years.
As consumers seek new types of residences, many interesting markets have emerged that are creating new opportunities for developers and designers who constantly monitor changes in demand and seek new niche markets.
An example would be wealthy consumers who typically reside in enormous mansions with large gardens on the outskirts of Bangkok.
The owners of these estates are usually elderly couples, who live with a few servants. When the 2011 floods took place, entire households were forced to relocate to condominiums in the centre of the city for two or three months.
After a while, these people started to enjoy the convenience of living in the city.
First, their busy children and friends found it easier to visit them. Second, they no longer had to work on maintaining the garden they rarely used, and last, they felt more secure thanks to the many guards monitoring the premises.
However, there are few condominiums in Bangkok that offer units large enough to meet the needs of people accustomed to living in mansions.
This is because most developers built projects targeting younger people, thus keeping units small. Hence this new demand is something designers can explore by delivering products that best fit consumers who are willing to pay for what they want.
Galerie Rue de 39 is aimed at just this market, where units start at 100 square metres. This project, which has relatively few units, focuses on residents' privacy, offers high security and is conveniently located on Sukhumvit Soi 39.
This is just one example of finding a niche market and delivering a consumer-centric product. Designing commercial products requires an in-depth understanding of consumers' wishes. It is more than just understanding current demands gleaned from general surveys. In fact, most designers do not trust focus groups because their superficial responses do not reveal the customers' true needs.
Though I personally feel that these surveys are among the many tools that allow us to understand customers better, it requires us designers to find needs that come from the end-user's deepest consciousness.
This requires researchers who are experienced in observing body language and emotions to analyse these consumers' fundamental needs.
Besides using focus groups, which is an old research method, new technology is now being used to assess younger consumers who are bold enough to express their thoughts.
Thus these channels allow designers to develop trendy residences that sell well and possess qualities that are affirmed by their target customers, who end up playing a role in creating these products.
To create consumer-centric products, we cannot just rely on analysis by professional researchers. Designers need to possess curiosity, a desire to follow different trends closely in order to expand their own perspectives, as well as communicate constantly with consumers to remain on top of changes.
If we want to move ahead sustainably while generating brand value, we need to learn how to find new opportunities and act on them immediately. Success can be guaranteed if close attention is paid to products down to their tiniest detail.
Though prospective customers cannot be considered omniscient deities who can answer all our questions, we should see them as deities we need to understand by finding new ways to study them and learn to design products they want.