Monday, January 3, 2011

Will Miss #272 - design going the extra mile

A container of gum has a separate pocket with slips of paper so that the chewer can wrap the gum in paper when finished. This means they don't have to worry about gum sticking to the trash bin liner when they throw it away.

If there is one thing you can say about manufacturers in Japan, it is that they are detail-oriented when it comes to considering consumer needs. One of the reasons that U.S. manufacturers have historically had difficulties breaking into the Japanese market is that they offer products "as is" rather than tweak them at an intimate level for the fussy Japanese consumers. You find that a lot of products will be adjusted to cater to the smallest of concerns on the part of consumers so that using the product is more convenient. Sometimes, this is all a bit much, but often these little changes make a difference. Whether those changes are of use to me or not, I find the choices manufacturers make to be a fascinating reflection of the Japanese consumer consciousness and that such fine details reveal something about the psychology and priorities of Japanese people.

I'll miss the way product design often goes that extra mile to make things more comfortable or convenient for consumers.