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While I don’t own many Apple products, I know the feeling that they give me when I use them. I like my Android tablet but for some reason the iPod Touch just seems to give me a better feeling when I use it. For years I’ve called it the, “white headphones effect”. There are lots of brands that provide the same feeling while you are using them. Another great example is Whole Foods. Here in Austin there is another healthy supermarket, Central Market. Both stores are excellent but, for me, there is just a better feeling walking around Whole Foods than there is when inside Central Market.
We’ve seen tons of blog posts and meetups around the importance of design. And more recently many have spoken about how critical design is when it comes to our startups and products.
As I’ve been working on switching my food intake to a fully raw foods plan, I’ve been looking at buying some kitchen appliances. The first item I want to purchase is a blender. As I look around on internet sites and in stores at the huge variety of blenders, two brands always seem to be at the top: Vitamix and Blendtec. Both blenders cost between $350-500. Every time I see a Vitamix blender on shelves or in food videos, I’ve wondered if product design and “feeling” is really that important? For purposes of this conversation, we will assume both blenders provide the same quality blending output.
Take a look at the image on the right – that’s a Vitamix blender. To me it is amazingly ugly — it looks like it from 1950, it’s huge, it’s not appealing looking, it has clunky buttons and even the blending container is ugly. Just compare the product design of this Vitamix blender to the iPod Touch.
Even with the ugly, clunky, non-appealing design of the entire Vitamix line, their blenders are amazingly popular. Look at any of their products on Amazon and the reviews are all nearly perfect. Check out the videos you YouTube where people would rather divorce their spouse than give up their Vitamix. My nutritionist packs the Vitamix in her luggage when she travels around the country!
Then there’s the Blendtec – also an amazingly popular machine. You probably know the Blendtec machines from their popular “will it blend” Youtube series. The reviews on Amazon for their blenders are also very close to perfect. To me the Blendtec machine looks way more appealing. The machine on the right has a digital keypad, a digital timer, a more refined design. The Blendtec also has a jar that fits under a counter and just looks more modern. I don’t think it is “apple-level design” but certainly is a nicer looking machine than the beast above.
It’s easy to say that a blender doesn’t need good design and a “feeling”. But the more I am getting into this new healthy lifestyle, the more it seems everyone uses their blenders more than just once a day.
I guess Vitamix doesn’t need to look at creating a modern design with “feeling” if their current units keep selling like hotcakes. But I wonder how many more blenders they would sell if they created a blender that has the power of their current models with a design that is more appealing. Or maybe instead of entering the TV market, Apple could create the iBlend?
I haven’t decided on a blender yet but I am leaning heavily towards the Blendtec because of the “feeling”. So maybe the answer to the title of the post is yes, for me product design always matters.