Designing the perfect refrigerator

Designing the perfect refrigerator

How do you use your refrigerator?
Noldus Consultant: Leanne Loijens, PhD
Case study write up: Abbe Macbeth, PhD

Think back to this morning, as you prepared breakfast. Did you go into your refrigerator? If so, how many times? Did you open any drawers? What did you pull off the shelves? Which shelves did you use?
These are difficult questions to answer accurately. Going into our refrigerators is such an automatic task that our long-term memory doesn’t store this information. Instead we auto-pilot these actions, which is fine for us, but not so great for appliance designers who need the answers to these questions in order to create the ideal refrigerator for the consumer. So, if you can’t ask consumers these questions through typical means such as surveys, how can you accurately gather this type of data?

The Noldus method

The answer lies in Noldus’ Unobtrusive Observation methods. On behalf of our client, our consultants designed an in-home usage study in which consumer interactions with their own refrigerators were filmed 24/7 over a two week period. Cameras were placed in the kitchen, and even inside of the refrigerator, to later view and record exactly how consumers interacted with the appliance. Examples of assessed behaviors included.

  • Who is in contact with the refrigerator
  • Which compartment is opened
  • How many times the door is opened
  • What product is loaded/removed

In home interactions were captured in multiple countries (India, Mexico, and the United States) to assess how refrigerator usage differs across nations. What potential cultural differences in usage exist in these growing markets, and how does that impact refrigerator design? By capturing in home usage 24/7, Noldus consultants were able to inform our client on all facets of how the refrigerator is actually used as consumers go about their daily routines. Through consumer behavior assessment, Noldus consultants turned the behavioral data into meaningful insights for our client in order to drive product development, concept testing, and campaign strategy.

The Insights

Noldus Consultants found three actionable insights for our client.

  • A fridge is not “one size fits all”.
  • The need for humidity control varies.
  • In some countries, refrigerators must conserve energy and be more efficient.

A fridge is not “one size fits all”. Use of compartments is driven by need, not by design, and need varies by country. By redesigning compartments to maximize storage potential, our customer was able to create a more usable fridge for each different markets.
The need for humidity control varies. In India, for example, dinner prep requires significantly more trips in and out of the fridge than is seen in other countries. To avoid upsetting the temperature of the entire unit, the refrigerator for this market requires compartments and doors with easy and quick access.
In emerging countries, poorer infrastructure means shaky power grids. Therefore, refrigerators in these markets must conserve energy and be more efficient. By creating a smaller door, these needs can be met.

 

 

 

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