Engineering & anthropology: A winning combination

Date of publication: June 15, 1995

Abstract:

The Client company, a well established manufacturer of consumer durables in India was keen to manufacture and market a vacuum cleaner, specially tailored for the urban Indian household. This paper presents the developmental process, the lessons learnt from research, the way these were made use of in product design and in further research. For the purpose, the Client, a strong believer in research, brought together and oversaw the activities of the UK based Design team and the India based research group. The paper seeks to demonstrate how the relationship between the physical world of the designer’s workshop was integrated with the emotional/cognitive world of consumer perceptions and preferences. Market research inputs were planned every step of the way to help sensitize the British design team to the needs, aspirations and expectations of the Indian consumer. The research and developmental process was evolutionary in nature. The design evolved over a period of one and a half years, undergoing several refinements resulting from inputs provided by qualitative market research. Focus Group Discussions have yielded rich data on socio-cultural dimensions affecting the design of the product. The various insights and findings related to Indian core values thrown up by research, have resulted in the designing of this new cleaning system.

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