- Capabilities Used
- Industrial Design
In order for consumers to adopt the system into their lifestyle, it had to be more than just reliable. It had to be awesome.
Every beer drinker has a fantasy of being his own bartender, pulling down the tap to pour the perfect pint of draft beer, complete with a beading glass and frothy head. AB InBev, the makers of Budweiser beer, in partnership with Jarden Consumer Solutions, asked Altitude to help tap into those desires with Draftmark, a solution to recreate the look, feel, and taste of draft beer at home. Getting that mix into a small container that would sit in the fridge, however, is more complicated than it might seem. Many consumers might be willing to use a draft beer system as a novelty, but in order for them to use it again and again and adopt it into their lifestyle, it had to be more than just a reliable system. It had to be perfectly designed.
AB InBev was already testing a pilot home tap system in focus groups and small markets, but the company was finding consumers struggled to recreate the draft experience. Small errors in inserting the beer bottle or sterile dispense cartridge resulted in an overload of foam or squirting beer, sometimes forming a pressurized “beer bomb” that exploded in the glass. Each step in the process—loading the beer bottle, putting in the cartridge, closing the system, tapping the bottle, and pouring into the glass—held potential for failure.
AB InBev had a production line for the custom beer bottle built and ready to roll, so changing the container wasn’t an option. But we could redesign the customer experience to make it easier to use and more enjoyable overall. Since even picky beer drinkers are often satisfied with the taste they get from bottled beer, the real draw would be recreating the ritual of pouring a draft at your favorite pub. The ideal solution, then, needed to connect this aspiration of being the bartender into a seamless experience that would transform the act of drinking beer at home.
Our integrated technology and design team set out to bring this experience to life through an iterative series of trade-off studies, models, and breadboards in order to markedly improve the customer experience. For example, the original product required nearly 100 pounds of force to tap the bottle, forcing consumers to push down with all of their might. Altitude’s final design reduced this force by a factor of 10 and added a satisfying “click” to signal when the bottle had been tapped.
Connecting to Drive Innovation
The most important change, however, was in redesigning the experience of the pour. Watching consumers use the pilot product, we knew that simply pulling a small spigot or pushing a button wouldn’t adequately mimic the experience of pouring a draught beer. The front of the product—the home of the tap handle—was completely re-conceived to highlight this key touchpoint. And special emphasis was given to the act of pouring itself. We enlarged the pull dramatically and completed re-engineered its mechanism to give it the look and feel of a traditional tap handle, at the same time improving pour quality through reduced foaming. The result was a improved experience design that fulfilled consumers’ fantasies of becoming an instant bartender, and made them excited to introduce the product into their homes.