THREE DESIGNS FOR LIVING
Clear Classics Intellivent food-storage system
America's Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is the biggest distributor anywhere. It is the largest single customer of product in the world, and it has its own special design parameters. Wal-Mart makes its profit on traffic and wants as many products as possible to say ''buy me'' as people pass by. Of course, there are many sections in a store, selling many kinds of products, including some that carry high prices. But since space is at a premium, Wal-Mart loves products designed to fit 14-by-14-inch shelves. And it especially likes products that cost less than $20.
Rubbermaid Inc.'s Clear Classics Intellivent System of food-storage containers is pure Wal-Mart design. The winner comes in four sizes, from one pint to 3.5 quarts, that fit easily onto shelves. The price is right, from $4.99 to $8.99. These products hit another Wal-Mart design button: They look good. In addition, they have an innovative steam vent that allows food to travel from the freezer to the microwave to the table without removing the lid. (Ergo, no splattering in the microwave.)
Of course, not all products sold in Wal-Mart can fit into 14-by-14 shelving. But if designers create them to stack and save space, they have a shot at selling to Wal-Mart. Rubbermaid's Icy Rider sled fits that bill.
After field research, a competitive product analysis, and consumer focus groups, Rubbermaid discovered that parents ride down the hill with their children, and kids slide down with friends, but people rarely use sleds alone. So Rubbermaid designed one to meet these needs. Its design features a seat big enough for two, molded handles, and steering. Lastly, after researching Wal-Mart's needs, Rubbermaid made the Icy Rider thin and stackable.
Bissell Inc.'s Little Green portable vacuum cleaner is designed to communicate to the shopper walking the aisles that it's easy to carry and use. It's for people who want a lightweight (9.9 pounds) liquid cleaner
for carpets, cars, and furniture. It sells for $79 to $99.
By Bruce Nussbaum in New York
Updated June 15, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1997, Bloomberg L.P.