Product Usability

A large packaged goods company was developing a new trash bag with pull strings.  Our client knew the bag had some structural weakness that had to be addressed but were constrained by cost.  They could not afford to build maximum strength into every possible stress point.  We were hired to determine how customers would really use the bags and which of the stress points had to be strengthened.  One approach we considered was conducting an ethnographic study, placing the product in consumers’ homes and then recording how the bags were used and where they failed.  This approach was rejected due to budget constraints and liability concerns. (Our client was concerned about damage caused by garbage dropping out of broken bags.)  So, we used an experimental design and assembled hundreds of items typically thrown into kitchen garbage bag.   Operating out of suburban malls, consumers were asked to select a trash container most like the one they used at home and then fill it with as much or little as they typically do with the assembled items.  We observed them as they removed the bag using the drawstrings however they chose and then walked down the hall to deposit it.  By watching and recording what we saw, we found how the bags were actually used, facilitating cost effective re-engineering and a successful product launch.

Comments are closed.