Why You Shouldn't Wash Your Hand's of Researching Design

Fiona Jack
Greg Bohlen


In this paper we demonstrate the key role qualitative research has played in helping to develop and build the Kimberly-Clark Away From Home sector as an innovator in its field. We also highlight some general learning about researching design, and illustrate this with material from a recent international study undertaken by Kimberly-Clark.

Researching innovative concepts particularly new designs has traditionally been a difficult area for research. Consumers are often conservative in their tastes and shy away from novel designs simply by dint of their unfamiliarity. We have all heard the anecdote of how the concept of mobile phones was rejected in research groups in the very recent past!

In this case, we were looking to help Kimberly-Clark develop a revolutionary range of washroom hand towel dispensers. The management objective in launching this range of dispensers was to position Kimberly-Clark as market leader by breaking new ground in the field of washroom design. It was critical, in the face of increasing competition from SCA Hygiene and Fort James (both of whom are trying to establish themselves as competitors on a European if not a global basis), to develop a European offer that was distinctive across its core countries and target sectors.