Suck It Up

Floor cleaning products that focus on human needs rather than technical specs.

Presenting a vacuum to a group of people
Project Details

In 2022, my team was engaged by a global floor care manufacturer that was ready for a new direction. After decades of fighting for market share with "me too" products, they were ready to find new customer challenges that were not being addressed by current products on the market. The design challenge was to deepen customer insights for both domestic and commercial product users and create 10 new product concepts that would pave the way for a new brand direction.

My Role: Project Lead, Design Research Lead

User Research
Product Design
Focus Groups

Cleaning is a human experience...

...the problem is that most cleaning products focus on the technical elements of the cleaning device rather than the human elements of the cleaning experience.

We conducted virtual in-home ethnographies and ride-alongs with professional cleaning teams to get up close and personal with the current floor cleaning process. Below are some of our key research insights that would drive our new product development.

Work-arounds like toilet bowl scrubbers to clean hard to reach areas were commonplace in the field.

Cleaning typical floors is the easy part. Staircases, corners, and curtains are where things get tough.

When asked, most users said they owned 3 or 4 floor cleaning devices. In reality, they had 8-9. It takes an arsenal to clean our homes.


Making It Real

Keeping these newfound user needs at the center of our design process, we collaborated with cross functional client teams to turn insights into new product features. We took our best ideas back to users for feedback, here are some of the crowd favorites.


Out in the World

The first product from this initiative was launched in 2023, focusing on the customer needs of durability and reaching hard to clean areas. These features were added to a product already in development at the time of our project; as a result, the design direction from our project was only incrementally applied. There are currently over 10 new products from this initiative in development and plan to launch in coming years.

Building Forward

More than adding new products for the pipeline, this project brought new strategy, clarity and excitement to the client team. Reestablishing a strong bond between the customer’s needs and the client's brands brought a new energy to the product development team going forward. Our client is planning many more product launches, directly informed by this initiative, in the coming years.