Finding research treasures at the toy market

It was a Monday morning and our Dolpin team were ready to go to Pasar Asemka, a toy market located near Kota Tua (Old City) in West Jakarta. Dolpin (Dolanan Pintar = “Smart Games”) is aimed at families with children aged 5-9 years, bringing health and relationship education to the home that can be delivered by parents as easily as bedtime storytelling (Learn more: link). Our plan at Asemka Market was  to conduct interviews and observations with merchants to learn more about the toy industry and market trends, especially their interactions with customers. With pens and paper in our hands, we walked into the bustling market.

We were greeted by the sight of dozens of stalls side-by-side, crammed full of all types of toys. Monster trucks in their packaging stacked up on top of each other. Basketballs and footballs hanging like fresh vegetables. Drones sleeping in their boxes, ready to be released. And people milling about, some bargaining, others who seemed to be just browsing. We took it all in and set about our task for the day. We had planned our observations using themes and developed guides for the interviews with suppliers, using seven theme buckets from Northwestern University with Greg Holderfield in Leadership through design innovation course (Learn more: link) .

Here are the themes we’re using for the Dolpin project, some of which you might be useful if you have a similar project.

IMG_20180829_105424Ade Ayu interviewed repondent at Pasar Gembrong, East Jakarta and Pasar Asemka, North Jakarta.


  • Modes of behavior

Modes of behavior are the ways for direct experience in doing something. Our goal here is to learn about the toy seller activities used to promote their merchandise and their interaction with customers.

  • Strategies

Strategies can be seen as ways to solve a problem. We are curious about what kind of marketing strategies are conducted in the stores to attract customers and promote their products. To explore strategy, we integrated the 4Ps (Product, Place, Price and Promotion) of marketing and components of Business Canvas Model into the interview guides. For example, we asked whether merchants put the most expensive or the best selling toys in the front section of the shop.

IMG_20180828_103613Parents shop around Pasar Asemka, North Jakarta


  • Activities

Activities are what people do to reach a desired goal. We are curious about the detail of activities in the stores. For example, making decisions on what type of toys to sell, merchants have to look for distributors, negotiate prices and test products. They have to arrange packaging or transportation for customers.  In learning about these activities, we can try to find patterns or trends that help us with our project.

  • Values

Values indicate what people want from an experience. We are curious to find out why merchants sell various types of toys. Is it because the toys are popular? Local or international? Safe? Educational?

IMG_20180828_101532Toy store at Pasar Asemka, North Jakarta
  • Pain points

Pain points are problems or frustrations that people experience. For example, the lack of a personal touch in providing services to customers, long waiting times for products to arrive, customer complaints, uninformed employees, etc. For Dolpin, we want to know how the shop owner handles and manages the pain points. Are there any appropriate solutions to manage customer complaints that benefit both parties (win-win solution)?

With these themes we were able to ask many questions, and receive even more answers. We spent time developing insights from the interviews and observations with merchants, customers and resellers. The secret to good observation is to stay curious,delve deeper into interesting topics and to have a little fun along the way. We look forward to sharing the first Dolpin prototype with you soon. Stay tuned!

Published by

Ratnakanya Hadyani

Kanya is Communication Officer for Tulodo. She hopes to tell stories that hopeful and thought provoking within complex situation created by behavior change and innovation.

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