Is your product design (inclusive of consumer product goods, web platforms, or physical spaces) engaging all the senses?  Are you being considerate of the "whole person"?  If you could use some tips, read on:

  • Engaging all senses:  Too often, in advising companies, I see products with great ideas and intentions miss the opportunity for stronger delivery by not engaging all senses. 
    • Case study:  A company asked me to review their new toy due for release.  The toy was meant to get young kids moving in play, and included an auditory feedback component.  Great idea.  But:  1-because the toy was for children, you had to keep in mind the physical development of the auditory system relative to the age of the audience.  Were the pitch and tone of the sound this toy made ideal for what the target audience age would respond to?  2-the toy was fuzzy, and the fuzzy was expensive, so they were considering alternative materials to use.  Factors included in my evaluation were ensuring that the tactile sensation and the colors of the new material were in line with the feelings they hoped to create.  For example, fuzzy vs. hard.  Yellow vs. purple.  Plastic vs. rubber.  In design, everything matters. 
    • Cinnabon:  While most food sellers in shopping malls are located in food courts, Cinnabon tries to locate their stores away from other food stalls.  Cinnabon executives want the smell of cinnamon rolls to waft down hallways and around corners uninterrupted, so that shoppers will start subconsciously craving a roll(1).
    • Pepsodent:  Pepsodent toothpaste was wildly successful in its early days.  What set it apart?  Ingredients used to make the toothpaste taste fresh had the unanticipated effect of also creating a tingling sensation on the tongue and gums.  Researchers found that customers said if they forgot to use Pepsodent, they realized their mistake because they missed that cool, tingling sensation in their mouths.  They expected, craved, that slight irritation, and if it wasn't there, their mouths didn't feel clean.  Similar effects are seen with foaming in shampoos and laundry detergent(2). 
  • Considering the whole person:  Consumers are complex, multi-dimensionary people with many factors that influence their perceptions and decision making.  In designing your product, how comprehensively are you factoring that in with respect to your target audience?  Age, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic factors, general education level, geographic location...all of these have the potential to impact how your product is received.
    • Case study:  A company was trying to launch a new web platform and mobile app for dermatology.  In our work together, one of the factors we discussed was identifying the ethnicity and geographic location of the target audience and how those people define "beauty."  Do women in Asia consider the same look beautiful as women in Africa?  In America?  How would that affect the visuals to use in the design of the platform?  What images would reflect the promise the product was hoping to make to consumers?  Because in design, everything matters.      

ENGAGE:  Do you need help figuring out how to incorporate more senses into your product design?  How about considering your audience more comprehensively?  Click here to contact me. 

GO FURTHER:  To learn more about Cinnabon, Pepsodent, and other examples, click here to pick up The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg(1,2).