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Develop products and services for small businesses to encourage consumers to buy local and support neighborhood economies.
Our team's initial phase began with a discussion of our assumptions and challenging what we believed we knew about small businesses and consumer habits. We used a human-centered design approach and conducted customer discovery research with small business owners that included online surveys, 1-on-1 interviews, and small focus groups.
Observations and Insights

Our team synthesized what we had learned, and conducted a brainstorming session in which we identified themes, refined our insights, and crafted both frameworks for the problem and ideas for potential solutions. We found that customer acquisition and growth was the most challenging problem small business owners face. This led us to frame our challenge as: "How might small businesses owners attain new customers that value local neighborhood businesses."
Additional Discovery and End User Research 

Further discovery and research concluded that small businesses want repeat customers, not people who show up once a year for special events and sales. Further end user research concluded that most people shop within a two-mile radius or a 5-15min drive from their home. End user interviews concluded that new residents are the most likely to try new places and don’t have a pre-existing and established buying patterns. From this research, we determined that proximity to businesses is the main factor for establishing repeat customers for local businesses.


We also learned via customer discovery and demand testing that people recycle or discard regular “flat” mail at very high rates. However, 3D packaging offers a lower discard rate and higher open rate of up to 3x more than “flat” mail.


The Solution


The Welcome Package


After testing and re-testing over a dozen concepts, one was the clear favorite among business owners, the Welcome Package. The Welcome Package is a direct marketing tool that includes a coupon book, a high-quality neighborhood map, and promotional items (such as magnets and gift cards) that highlight small businesses in a specific neighborhood.


We developed both a physical MVP with the most desirable characteristics we uncovered from the customer discovery phase. Our team worked with a graphic designer to create an approachable and fun logo design that tested well with end users. We then created a physical prototype, website, and sales materials.  


Going to Market and Test Launch


A total of 31 businesses participated and paid to be included in the Welcome Package test, validating demand. We mailed and hand delivered the Welcome Package to 2,000 new residents who recently moved into the targeted area, within 2 miles of the highlighted businesses. We gathered data, analyzed product demand, determined ROI, and usage rates to gain additional insights. We found that the Welcome Package with its unique packaging (a 10-inch tall tube) leads to customer engagement rates far higher than many other advertising options, and over 350 new customers in total were generated to those businesses that participated.






Main Steet Alliance, national non-profit advocating for small businesses 


Project Director 


Project Approach

  • Human-centered design 

  • End-User Research: 1-on-1, online surveys, and landscape analysis 

  • Product Development 

  • MVP Build 

  • Prototype Testing 

  • Evaluation


B2C Small Businesses 




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