Featured Case Studies


The Problem

Garden hoses have to be one of the least interesting products in existence.  Even the most passionate green-thumbs who will talk your ear off about this year's alfalfa harvest have a hard time holding a conversation about hoses.  It's not an issue of being good or bad, the product is just so straightforward that it is hard to imagine anything else.


Our Observation

We captured over a dozen hours of consumers performing every task imagineable that requires a garden hose.  Watering plants, washing cars, filling pools, cleaning pavement, washing pets... you name it, we saw it.  In the process of observing so many different activities, it became clear that there truly were opportunities to improve the product.  However, showing the research footage to our clients was like telling a long story only to finish with "I guess you had to be there."  Despite our best efforts, we could not get our clients to see what we were seeing.


The "Aha" Moment

We realized our approach was off.  No amount of "seeing" could create empathy.  We needed to get the client to feel what the end-users were feeling.  As such, we set up an elaborate obstacle course that recreated pain after pain that we had seen in the field.  Our clients showed up to ideation and spent the day untangling hoses, winding through potted plants, and patching leaks.  We had hoses that were too short, couplings that were bent, and kinks galore.  By the end of the day, our clients were dirty, tired, and frustrated... but they finally got it.


The Result

Our ideation was transformed.  The designers in the room understood for whom they were designing.  The engineers now knew the challenges they had to overcome.  The marketers could finally speak directly to the pains of their end-users.  Armed with empathy, the clients couldn't sketch ideas fast enough.  After the project was completed, this enthusiasm followed them back into their business.

Interesting note: we created silly, custom trophies to the "winners" of the obstacle course.  Years later, these trophies are still sitting on our clients' desks as a reminder of the experience.