Can we learn the design thinking process from bad breath? Yes, we can.
I love good design — creative and design excellence is a strong personal interest of mine. I love when things are easy to understand, aesthetically pleasing, and cognitively ordered. I am especially impressed with good industrial design, demonstrated by Apple and the Dyson Vacuum. Site Usability and Excellence in Visual Display of Information is also a strong interest of mine.
The other night, while getting ready for bed, I was struck in awe by a simple and effective design that I hadn’t noticed before: the Listerine bottle. I decided to learn more about it. The old Listerine bottle wasn’t working well: it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing; it didn’t support the Pfizer brand initiative; and, consumption would take a customer several months, resulting in less frequent purchasing and lower sales. Something needed to be done. Specifically, the Pfizer website says this about the Listerine Bottle Redesign:
The design of Listerine’s 2.1 liter Club Bottle enhances the perception of size and value, while also making the oversized package easier to carry and handle. [A] The ergonomic grip panels provide mechanical interlock with the user’s fingers for comfortable and secure gripping of this club-sized package. [B] The tall child-proof cap affords a large grip surface for ease of entry. [C] The brand’s iconic shape was enhanced to provide efficient “cube out” for supply chain requirements, while also providing a knuckle clearance for individuals stocking shelves.
Pfizer received the help from a design firm, and together they did the following:
Using advanced design research techniques, both qualitatively (sensing what people think, feel & behave) and quantitatively (measuring what people think, feel & behave) Pfizer discovered trends & preferences and measured and defined behavioral patterns & purchasing criteria; profile lifestyles and user & buyer experiences. The Pfizer research team utilized ethnography, anthropology, sociology, psychology, market research and basic business to create handheld products that are functional and very attractive in the way they look and perform, but add consumer value.
Ergonomics is the science that achieves the perfect fit between people and products. There is a physical side, which considers variations in human size, shape, strength and performance, and a cognitive side, which addresses vision, cognition, memory and learning. The Pfizer team designed from the inside out: they used human performance to define the scope of the design exploration, which saves time and money. Their experts in biomechanics, kinesiology, physical therapy, psychophysics and cognitive & physical ergonomics define safe limits and optimal user experience scenarios, establishing a framework for innovative and realistic design solutions. The larger mouth of the bottle, it turns out, not only aids in liquid intake, encourages intake from the bottle instead of using a cup (less moving parts), but resulted in quicker consumption, which effected net sales due to more frequent purchasing. Good ergonomics and design results in higher sales.
The Pfizer team believes that good design goes beyond aesthetic appeal and is based on deliberate intent, purpose and science. There are reasons for each characteristic of every design: some make the product more intuitive and easier to use; others make using the product more pleasurable. Pfizer designed the new Listerine bottle based on a deep understanding of how people, think, feel and behave and the limits and capabilities of the human hand. The new Listerine bottle is designed to be a seamless extensions of your hand, extending your capabilities to perform the task at hand.
Using Ethnography to gain insights into the anthropology of product usage; basic market research to learn about the likes and dislikes of a market; biomechanics to gain insights into the limitations of the human hand; and creative excellence to satisfy the aesthetic demands of the market and to support the brand initiative — all lead to happier customers, increased sales, and an wholesale increase in customer loyalty. * For more on design, here’s a great interview with Jonathan Ive, the VP of Industrial Design at Apple.