How to Win in a Competitive Market Using Human-Centered Design


Remember the days when cold water came in a tin cooler? This was the start of Igloo. When you think of Igloo, what do you remember? Consumer lifestyles are changing, and competitive pressure is growing. Igloo wanted to dig deeper to create new nostalgia and make it easier for people to engage in their preferred activities.

The Challenge

While Igloo remains the top cooler brand in the U.S., the competitive landscape has been changing as new brands are emerging. People are changing too—more active lifestyles and modern Covid precautions are driving shifts in lifestyle, and as a result, different brands are meeting new needs. Igloo knew it needed to approach consumers with new ideas and draw on nostalgia in order to stay top-of-mind for their next cooler purchase.


To understand the competitive shift, Igloo partnered with Gongos to immerse themselves in consumer lives, truly empathizing and understanding their day-to-day. We looked at the driving forces behind the changing landscape and tuned into these use cases to help futureproof the brand.

As we applied a human-centered design (HCD) mindset, we began to think through the lens of the consumer and address:

Key Deliverables

This work was shaped through the lens of a HCD mindset and began by reframing the challenges Igloo faced, and identifying the need to develop empathy through immersion with consumers. We did this through virtual journals where consumers showed us how they lived, used and packed their coolers for different events and activities. We dug deeper with a group of these consumers in one-on-one experiential interviews where we probed further on the functional and emotional needs of activities.

Armed with this knowledge we developed a survey tool that allowed us to validate what we heard with 2,000 consumers, understand the impact Covid, and help to prioritize the future areas where Igloo could focus on and own. The work led to the development of the following key strategies:

The human-centered strategies helped inspire new ideas, new use case, and new relationships that address what is most important for the consumer.

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