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The Big Question for our Students:

How can you translate a consumer need into an attractive product proposition?

The Design Opportunity:

To use design-led thinking and methodology to;

- Stimulate ideas and debate within Unilever's scientific team
- Find ways to communicate product benefits

Project Scope:

To fully explore this opportunity the brief was left relatively open in order to give our students the space to experiment with various tools and approaches. The project was based around 2 thought provoking questions;

Phase One: 'Has design anything to say about the future of fluids?'

Phase Two: 'Has design anything to say about the washing of clothes?'

Phase One - What we did and how we did it:

'Has design got anything to say about the future of fluids?'

With such an abstract brief our students needed something to anchor their investigation. They needed a start point. So they created a personal context to give direction to their work.

Working in small teams, students used a variety of tools including mood boards, mind maps, interviews and research cards to explore how people react to, use, establish multiple territories and stories that expressed the emotional and functional benefits of fluids now and in the future.

With Unilever, the students were then able to review, evaluate and refine these territories to create a solid platform for the second phase of the project.

Phase Two - What we did and how we did it:

'Has design got anything to say about the washing of clothes?'

This question allowed the students to take a much more focused approach which enabled them to take product development and storytelling to the next level. Using the phase one territories as inspiration they created design idea cards. Working with Unilever, the students then edited their ideas for further development. Models and prototypes were created and tested always within the context of the end-user and the creative narrative established in phase one.

A final round of evaluation and elimination with Unilever allowed the students to refine their recommendations further. At this stage the students' focus turned to how to clearly communicate the emotional and functional benefits of their products to internal and external audiences alike.

Using a combination of infographics and time-based media such as video, film and animation, the students were able to map out what the product was, how it would be used and how it would make consumers feel.

The Results

This provided Unilever with the perfect package to take back to their internal audiences to share the ideas and concepts generated by the students. The creative narratives also provided their Sales and Marketing departments and agencies and consultancies with useful consumer insights for future work. Above all it created a common language across the departments to allow them to discuss the potential new ideas and opportunities the students' work has highlighted.

Design School thinking has provided us with a new set of tools to bring to life our technical challenges and more importantly the potential solutions.

Steve Singleton, Science Area Leader, Unilever

Course info

UCAS Code W245

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 4 years Full Time

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

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