Technology Driven Design or Customer Centered Innovation? – The Imodium Experience
Posted by Plish on April 6, 2016
Think back to your last experience with…
Yes, you read correctly. Take a few moments and think about it. Name at least five things that you feel when you have diarrhea. It’s probably not hard because those experiences are typically extremely visceral.
Urgency, cramping, sweat, embarrassment, loud, runny, running…. the list goes on.
Now, name five things that you typically need to deal with diarrhea.
Toilet paper, water, underwear, anti-diarrhea medication, an open toilet, Gatorade…
Nowhere in either of these two lists did you see scissors mentioned did you?
I can hear what you’re thinking, “Plish, why the heck would I think of fricking scissors??!?”
Check this out:
So, what’s behind this packaging debacle?
Well, it’s surely not customer-centered needs. While it is about stopping diarrhea, it’s not about improving people’s experiences with diarrhea.
At the core, it’s about Technology.
I haven’t interviewed anyone at McNeil about the packaging. But I’ve seen this phenomenon before. You see, McNeil sees the contents of this package as its product. It’s all about the drug, and packaging the drug was driven by technology.
The manufacturing facility has scores of cool, hi-tech packaging machines that can safely, securely, deposit and seal loperamide (Imodium) caplets in their foil/paper blister chambers. These packets keep the white caplet inside safe from harm as thousands of boxes rattle around in a truck, and/or are thrown around at shipping docks. Then, when the card of tablets is stuffed in a pocket or purse, the packaging needs to protect the precious, effective cargo.
Unfortunately, nowhere in this list is the customer experience.
The end result then is a hard to open package that includes (mindblowing) directions for using scissors in case the person opening it can’t tear the plastic.
What is interesting is that on the Imodium website you can read the following:
IMODIUM® A-D EZ Chews begin to dissolve quickly. And when you have diarrhea, fast relief can never come too soon. IMODIUM® A-D EZ Chews work fast, so you can get out of the bathroom and back to the things you love.
So, with the EZ Chews, they acknowledge the need for quick resolution, but curiously don’t figure this into the packaging experience in their other products.
How did they get here?
As I said before, this product was driven by technology. While the drug was tested for efficacy, and while the package keeps the drug safe, the lesson here is that the product, Imodium, isn’t just a little pill*, it’s the pill and packaging – the whole experience of opening and taking the medication (which incidentally is done while people are in a, um, compromised state).
- Look beyond the product and look at the experience.
- Don’t expect technology to automatically create a good experience.
- Think about the packaging! (Anyone out there thinking about battery packaging??) Oh, the presence of a certain packaging machine in your plant doesn’t mean that it’s a fit for every project.
- Streamline the process of opening the package while still keeping your package contents safe.
- Use some empathy! Understand what people are going through before, during, and after, touching your product.
The good news is that if you look at this list, especially number 5, there is clearly an opportunity for innovation in this space.
I’m looking forward to seeing the next generation of diarrhea packaging, but just hopefully it’s not as a user. 😉
*-Imodium is available in other configurations, such as a liquid.