Design Research in India
When we helped our client, an established global brand, explore the home appliances category for the rapidly growing Indian market, we didn’t simply adapt models from their existing product line. We took a long-term approach by immersing ourselves in the region to understand the unique behaviors and needs of the consumers, and produced original concepts for the client that are specific to the Indian culture and way of life.
India's wildly diverse culture makes it a demanding design research challenge.
Challenging environmental conditions in India put incredible strain on whitegoods. Unreliable water and electricity, extreme temperatures, pollution, humidity and monsoon rains all contribute to heavy wear and tear for appliances. A few more things that set India apart from other markets: there are 500 million vegetarians, more than 30 official languages spoken, 50 cultural holidays in the calendar year and one of the fastest growing middle classes in the world.
The goals of our research were to understand this new consumer and define clear and actionable insights that would provide both near- and long-term value for our client. During the six-month project, the Smart team spent five weeks undertaking in-field research in Delhi and Chennai, living for four days at a time with eight women and their families. Spending that much time allowed us to learn about all aspects of their lives and their environment. We studied the way they shopped, cooked and ate meals as a family. We also observed their laundry methods, where centuries of traditions were being redefined by access to washing machines in everyday life.
Purchasing the first set of appliances is a big family decision. It’s also an expensive one, often requiring years of savings. We observed families making up their own traditions as they went along to reflect the way they incorporated them into their lives.
We saw refrigerators taking pride of place in the living room, whereas laundry machines and clotheslines had no dedicated space at all. We also noted the shortcuts and work-arounds women devised to make things a little bit easier for themselves.