Essential oils are a hobby that I recently started due to working AND studying remotely. Being stationary for long periods of time, I want to freshen up my work and study station with essences that not only smell good, but also have beneficial properties to help me with issues such as stress, anxiety, and mental fatigue. Hence, I have been exploring essential oils and aromatherapy. I even went as far as to create a customer journey map of the essential oil selecting and purchasing experience for my final assignment.
What Are Essential Oils and Aromatherapy?
In a nutshell, essential oils are compounds extracted from parts of plants, which are then concentrated into carrier oils through various methods in order to capture a plant’s unique scent and other properties. For millennia, they have been used in medicine and an aromatic treatment used to promote health and well-being, called aromatherapy.
In a way, aromatherapy is thought of as both an art and science. There is limited scientific research supporting aromatherapy, but it’s not far-fetched to assert that inhaling these compounds—direct pathways to the brain and lungs—may provide health benefits. After all, many have sworn by it for millennia.
Popular essential oils you might have heard of include but definitely aren’t limited to: lavender, lemon, peppermint, cedarwood, frankincense, jasmine, and bergamot.
Creating a unique blend of essential oils for a diffuser is considered both an art and science. Do you like floral, earthy, citrus, and/or fresh scents? Do you want pain relief, stress relief, an energy boost, and/or just a pleasant smell? Whatever your circumstances, there is a whole world of oils and blending recipes out there, and finding one that works for you is highly subjective.
There are also countless brands that sell these oils, but one must choose wisely because some brands put chemical additives in their oils or extract the plants from areas where they are considered endangered.
What Is A Journey Map?
Earlier I mentioned that I also created a customer journey map for selecting and purchasing essential oils. But what is a journey map exactly?
In UX Design, journey maps are visual interpretations of a customer’s full experience of their relationship with a product, service, or organization. They show from a specific persona’s perspective the journey from start to finish through steps and phases. They also intend to highlight key interactions, such as specific touchpoints, channels (the mediums in which interactions take place), customer emotions, customer thoughts, and opportunities for improvement (plus who would be responsible for the improvements).
Overall, the ultimate goals of a journey map are: to develop empathy by walking in the customer’s shoes, to identify potential stress areas where the customer’s experienced could be improved upon, and to provide visual leverage for review and future visioning.
Essential Oils Journey Map
My journey map is inspired by the well-known children’s board game Candyland because that is what first comes to my mind when I think of ‘journey’ (thanks, nostalgia). Roughly similar to that of the board game, I used a start-to-finish trail with different colors, twists and turns, and visuals representing channels and emotions.
Here is a brief overview of what I created. Let’s begin by first creating the persona, and call him Liam. Liam is working and studying from home, and therefore wants to freshen up his workspace and perhaps aid himself health-wise through pleasant scents. He has recently discovered essential oils and their potential health benefits, and wants to try them out.
Liam embarks on the journey by first considering whether it’s worth it to try essential oils. He does not want to spend too much money, but nonetheless many people swear by these oils for their well-being and mood, so it’s worth a little investment.
He then goes to the research phase and browses articles, social media posts, and brand websites to determine which essential oils and oil blends he wishes to try out. Let’s say that he likes earthy and citrus scents, and wants stress relief, better sleep, and muscle pain relief. He would then google or search on Pinterest “essential oils for muscle pain” or “earthy essential oils” and then be informed as well as see inspirations for oil blends.
Keep in mind that along the way, Liam may be performing actions through various channels as well as experiencing thoughts and emotions from those actions. He may, for example, raise a lot of questions on which oils are actually beneficial, whether there are concerning side effects, or whether any of them are unethical. Or, he just may be overwhelmed by all the information from countless articles. Consequently, he may feel unsure and lost.
Here is another example of his thoughts and emotions bubble from the phase where he shops for the oils on the website he chose.
The next phases include selecting a medium (which brand or platform to purchase essential oils from), shopping for and ordering the oils, having them delivered and trying them out, and then reflecting on the purchases.
But one more thing I wish to emphasize here is that some action bubbles on the map have text highlighted in red, which indicates potential opportunities for improvement. I also elaborate on who would/could be responsible for improving the experience in its own bubble, with the numbers corresponding to their respective actions and owners.
With this journey map, one can see a customer’s full experience of exploring, purchasing, and obtaining essential oils. Hopefully, one can also spot more opportunities for improving customer experience beyond what I highlighted as well as be inspired for future visioning for essential oil enthusiasts out there.
You can view my full journey map here. Enjoy!