User Experience Re-Establishes a Company

Human Centered Design Wins Back a Market and Transforms a Company

user experience
  • Capabilities Used
  • Strategy
  • Industrial Design
  • Engineering

In the lucrative dog-grooming category, clippers have traditionally sold on speed, but Oster, in partnership with Altitude, made a bold move in designing the next generation of clippers by putting performance and the user experience first. As a result, Oster regained its leading position in the market with the new A6 line, and recaptured the heritage upon which the company’s brand was built.

Rather than chase the market and increase speed, the A6 development team chose to buck the industry norms and take a human-centered approach, improving the user experience instead.

Faster Isn’t Better

The market leader in clippers for over 70 years, Oster had been losing market share in the last decade by introducing each new clipper based on the original technology, which had become outdated. Not only was Oster falling behind the competition, but also the professional dog grooming market was moving away from the company entirely. Oster came to Altitude to employ human centered design – re-engineer the technology and rethink the entire user experience from the ground up.

Professional groomers undergo significant physical strain in their work. Although faster clippers enable groomers to cut at a higher rate, they also introduce higher levels of noise, heat, and vibration. One key finding that emerged from our research: there’s a threshold speed, above which perceived performance diminishes sharply and discomfort increases dramatically. Faster isn’t better.

Rather than chase the market and increase speed, the A6 development team chose to buck the industry norms and take a human-centered approach, improving the user experience instead. The team targeted a maximum speed that optimizes user comfort without sacrificing performance and productivity. In addition, a custom motor was developed to accommodate a wide range of operating speeds.

The ergonomic challenges that groomers face are as diverse as the pets they service. Features were added to reduce fatigue and improve control, allowing the groomer to focus on providing consistent results in dynamic and unpredictable situations. For example, a groomer must constantly manage a pet with one hand while clipping precisely with the other, highlighting a need for the clipper to be both agile and maneuverable in a single hand. The narrow cross-section of the new clipper reduces grip force, while the ergonomic form factor allows users to confidently adjust their grip and always find a comfortable position.

Breakthrough Innovation

An unprecedented human-centered view of the design challenge led to new requirements, which necessitated a ground-up and holistic re-imagining of the product construction. The result was a breakthrough technological innovation.  Historically, the clipper housing had been used to join the motor to the clipping mechanism. The A6 platform re-frames this approach by treating the motor and clipping mechanism as a single, fully integrated sub-assembly.

The development of the A6 line of heavy-duty clippers broke the long-standing paradigm in which users are forced to choose between comfort and productivity, elevating groomers’ productivity potential beyond what was once possible. Consumers have responded: The new A6 clipper has been launched globally and is winning back the clipper market. With its human centered design and innovative technology, the A6 family of clippers is well positioned to lead the market for years to come.Green Altitude Logo