Digital Product ResearchWe’re a team at Co-op Digital and this is the archive of our experiments… Read more

Washing as a service

Good washing machines are expensive, and cheaper ones aren’t always reliable and prove expensive in the long term.

Pay weekly on the high street

The alternative, especially for people on low incomes, is to buy a washing machine using finance, often at a high rate of interest.

Rent or buy

People’s attitudes to ownership are changing. We believe that renting will be more popular in the future. However domestic appliance rental companies have disappeared from the high street.

Would people sign up for a subscription service for their washing?

We promoted a washing subscription service to see how people responded

We prototyped Washify - a subscription washing machine service that included a 48hr repair or replace service and a regular delivery of laundry liquid. We tested the concept with 5 landlords and 12 potential customers.

One of our team testing our prototype with a landlord and another observing remotely
We set up a basic user testing lab

We thought there was something interesting in the often painful relationship between landlords and tenants. So we wondered how we might make that relationship better.

Would landlords use a service like this to provide a washing service for their tenants?

Landlords were not interested in renting

We learned that Washify was not attractive to landlords. They preferred to use local people to maintain their properties and saw our proposition as expensive. However tenants were interested in the subscription model, due to the low cost and ease of maintenance.

People with a job to be done

Through Google advertising we were able to reach people at the point where they were looking for a solution to a problem: they had a broken washing machine and a pile of dirty washing on the floor. This was the perfect time to talk to them about our offer and we learned that it compared very well against the alternative options available.

This way seems cheaper and more convenient than the laundrette even though the laundrette is only a 1 minute walk away.

- Tenant who wanted to rent a washing machine as their landlord would not replace a broken one

Where we want to go next

We think that understanding in more detail how tenants could use Washify would be a useful next step. The best way to do this might be a small scale pilot in a local area.

How we ran this experiment

Talking to people at need

We used Google ads to bring people to our site when they were searching for something. Once they were on our site we were able to talk to them through the website as they were browsing to ask them what brought them there. This way we got to speak to people who were in the middle of the problem and trying to solve it. We could then arrange telephone calls to find out more. Everyone who gave us some of their time got a voucher as a thank-you.

One-to-one interviews with potential users

We only have a few days to organise interviews, which means we have to use the quickest way to find relevant people to talk to. We use social media and our professional and social networks to carry out highly targeted recruitment to find people who closely represent our target audience.

We observe and record our interviews, taking care to remove any details that would identify the participants. Everyone involved signs a participant agreement and we give vouchers to the people who take part as a thank-you for their time.

We use active listening techniques to get deeper insights into the reasons behind comments that people make. We have learnt a lot from experts in Co-op Digital such as Andrew Travers and James Boardwell that have helped us get the most from these interviews, thank you.

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Further reading

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