Thursday, October 4, 2012

Product Design and the Fluidmaster Leak Sentry FAIL

Here's a common sense tip when shopping at Home Depot - be very suspicious of buying any product when all the units on the shelf look like they have been returned:

Notice the shabby condition of all the boxes on the right.  The product is obviously a market failure.

It's a great idea - a toilet valve that alerts you to a flapper valve leak.   But somehow the way Fluidmaster has implemented it has turned off customers in a big way.

The Hydro-Clean model on the left is a copy of the Fluidmaster design, and doesn't appear to work much better.   The boxes are fresh only because it was recently introduced.

Now a little commentary on product design and market testing.   Fluidmaster could have saved themselves this costly market failure if only they had gotten a couple thousand out into the field for well-documented feedback.  They probably tested the heck out of these to make sure they worked as designed, and found it was a robust design.

But here's the problem:   They work DIFFERENTLY than what customers are used to.  Sometimes different gets rejected by the market even when it's better.