HFI | BSH home appliances case study

BSH - Home appliances

BSH identifies critical emerging market insights in India

BSH Home Appliances Corporation is the third-largest manufacturer of high-end appliances in the world. BSH is a joint venture between Robert Bosch GmbH and Siemens AG based in Munich, Germany. With its dedication to producing outstanding and environmentally responsible home appliances, BSH is preparing to expand into the Indian home appliance marketplace.

After a brief entry into and exit from India in the mid-1990s, BSH recognized that a thorough competitive analysis of the Indian market was required, especially as it pertained to market research to identify strategic opportunity points in the Indian home appliance industry.

The Challenge: Identifying the Needs of Indian Consumers

Although using a washing machine may initially seem like a very straightforward task, there are several layers of influence that determine what drives a consumer to use a washing machine. Furthermore, the reasons why they may choose one kind of washer over another are also complex. The factors that drive these decisions are unique within specific ecosystems.

HFI uses the term ecosystem as it applies to the impact of culture to human systems. Just as a natural ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the interconnected living organisms, the ecosystem of our human environment consists of all of our social, cultural, economic, family, personal, emotional and mental interactions and behaviors.

Deep insights into design methodology are possible by understanding the cultural, economic, and sociological circumstances of end users. These factors vary significantly in different parts of the world. Therefore, identifying the unique needs of an unfamiliar market can be a daunting challenge for an international corporation. In this project, HFI sought to answer questions such as:

  • What kinds of people choose to use washing machines rather than hand washing their clothing?
  • What drives the decision to use an automatic washer over manual washing, and vice versa?
  • Once a consumer decides that he or she wants a washing machine, what factors contribute to a decision to purchase from the many models available?
  • How have other companies in India been successful in the washing machine industry?
  • Are there any features that could be integrated in the design of washing machines that could appeal to end users?
The HFI approach: Ecosystem research and opportunity identification

BSH engaged Human Factors International (HFI) to develop an Ecosystem Model of washing machine usage in India, based on HFI’s extensive experience in consultation with multinational corporations seeking to enter unfamiliar markets. HFI’s Ecosystem Research is a robust process that can reveal applicable insights into the product design and marketing processes. This study included:

  • User research
  • Cultural analysis
  • Ethnographic research and interviews
  • Ecosystem documentation
  • Scenario creation
HFI's Recommendations: Design Washing Machines Based on Three User Profiles

The Ecosystem Model process included the identification and analysis of each Indian washing machine consumer group. HFI’s analysis of the data found three specific user profiles that can be targeted in the Indian marketplace.

By analyzing the cultural and economic motivations for different kinds of washing machine users, HFI suggested specific features and pricing options for washing machine designs. HFI concluded that no single washing machine design could effectively meet all of the demands of each user group successfully, but that the differences across these three profiles are unique enough to support different design modalities that could be commercially successful.

Outcomes and benefits: Targeted product design for specific consumer groups

Based on the unique needs of each kind of user, BSH can design different washing machine models for specific consumer groups. HFI identified specific features and price ranges for BSH to consider within each consumer group. This focused approach can provide an advantage when entering the Indian marketplace. Furthermore, HFI determined that the competitors of BSH in India are not effectively creating products that meet the needs of these consumers. Therefore, BSH was advised to consider the unique circumstances of each consumer group and design washing machines based on the needs of the respective users.

These competitive insights are a direct result of understanding the human factors which drive washing machine use. With the help of Human Factors International, BSH now has a better understanding of the needs of consumers in India, and how they can design washing machines to leverage those demands and drive sales.

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