Client: Big-box retailer.
Engagement: create a retro, private label toaster. Yes, a toaster.
Result: While toasters may seem like a no-brainer, this particular toaster became one of the best-selling toasters in the United States.
This engagement was only a few weeks long, and Rebel was hired to simply validate a design done by others. This is fine with us, as product testing is an integral part of our process and key to ensuring the success of any product.
Our first step was to create a matrix of features available in all toasters. We were surprised by the sheer volume of choices in the space. Traditional toasters were losing ground to tabletop toaster-ovens, infra-red heat, and features that users saw as gimmick-y but worthwhile. There are dozens of companies building toasters and toaster-ovens, and each category has products that rate 5-stars across the board.
But we went into people’s homes anyway and studied how they made toast. We did this for less than 20 families in total, as time was short, but our data showed that the features we were noticing as ‘kitchy’ were indeed just that. In the end, people want to toast their morning bread (or bagel, or waffle, or pop-tart) with a single mechanical lever. Consistency is important. Reliability is important. And ease-of-use is paramount for people who are still half-asleep.
So while the final form-factor had already been decided, we removed all features, dials, and buttons except those that were in constant use by our test-market. The result was the best selling toaster in the United States for two years. There is a good chance this toaster is in your home or the home of someone you know.