Focus Products Group (FPG) approached PDT with two objectives: to refresh and improve their existing Summer Ice Treats (SIT) line and to develop a new category of product that creates a finer ice shaving or snow texture, called Snoball, which only existed in the commercial space.

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine
Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

FPG Snoball Ice Machine

Research

Our team sought to uncover opportunities for improvement and innovation. We started by purchasing a commercial machine to understand how the process worked.  This machine was 33” long x 14” wide X 27.5” tall, with a price tag of about $1900. It was capable of shaving large ice blocks into snow that is akin to fresh snow in January.

 

We conducted ethnographic research with a number of adults and children who interacted with existing consumer machines and sampled the ice that resulted from the consumer machines as well as the large, industrial machine we purchased.

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

Positioning

We also benchmarked current store offerings for a range of shopping sites, and developed a category matrix, which gave an accurate positioning of FPG’s current offerings based on a number of product characteristics.

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

Developing Solutions

The PDT creative team began to develop solutions with a range of forms and functions.

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

Concept Refining

A number of concepts were refined to ultimately enable the FPG and PDT teams to analyze and choose the most appropriate final design direction.

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

Technical Challenges

The main technical challenge was to get the same quality snow in a counter top product using standard ice cubes.

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

Prototyping

2 functional prototypes were made in our prototyping shop that used homemade ice, either from an ice maker or ice cube trays.

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

Competitive Product

While hard to duplicate the output of the large, pricey commercial machine, FPG’s new snoball machine is able to create finely shaved ice that is markedly better than any from their current line or from competitive products.

Focus Products Group Snowball Machine

Retail Success

The two new snoball models and the 2 nonfunctional appearance models were all shown at the 2014 housewares show in Chicago and have since been introduced in retail outlets nationwide.

About Product Development Technologies (PDT)

Product Development Technologies (PDT) is a global, full-service product design and development firm with 120 employees worldwide. Team members have expertise in a wide range of product development disciplines, including strategy, scouting, design research, industrial design, user experience development, mechanical and electrical engineering, software development, and sourcing. PDT’s award winning product designs have been recognized with more than 70 awards from authorities such as BusinessWeek, Fast Company, the Industrial Designers Society of America and The Consumer Electronics Association.

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