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Black & Decker

Cordless Mower with Muscle

User Research, Industrial Design, Design & User Research, Product Brand Language

Black & Decker wanted to persuade gas-powered equipment enthusiasts to convert to cordless.

Research insights led to engineering and design features for a new kind of cordless mower that lures gas loyalists.

Bresslergroup’s research identified barriers that were keeping consumers from buying cordless, plus opportunities to persuade them to give up the gas experience.

Cordless electric should be a more convenient fit for consumers, but many are hesitant to convert. The gas-powered yard equipment market dwarfs the electric-powered market in the U.S. Black & Decker came to Bresslergroup for help figuring out why.

Faced with this challenge, our research team embarked on a qualitative study consisting of contextual inquiry with consumers in three U.S. locations. Three major insights came out of this research.

The project team translated them into a novel aesthetic design and features for a new mower that appeals to all.

Bresslergroup’s researchers recruited participants who were using gas-powered equipment despite working in yards that were under a third of an acre in size — well within the run time of most cordless mowers.

Home interviews revealed the barriers keeping them from switching to cordless: Subjects worried that cordless mowers with a single battery wouldn’t have enough juice to complete their yard in one go.

They weren’t convinced the mowers could handle tougher conditions, such as early morning damp grass or grass that grows extra-long while homeowners are out of town. They worried these conditions might stall the mower and require extra power. And they weren’t impressed with the general look of cordless mowers on the market, which tend to look and feel more toy-like than serious.

Bresslergroup brought these insights to Black & Decker, whose innovation engineers responded by originating the 60-volt POWERSWAP system. Two 60-volt batteries sitting side by side can be “swapped” at the touch of a button. Compared to competing mowers that largely have single 40 volt batteries, 120 volts is more than enough to ensure the mower will complete up to a third of an acre without needing to stop and recharge.

To address the “tougher conditions” concern, Black & Decker’s engineers integrated AUTOSENSE technology, which allows the user to leverage the two batteries for higher-power/shorter-runtime mode or lower-power/extended-runtime mode depending on a lawn’s real-time conditions.

Black & Decker asked Bresslergroup to develop the mower’s industrial design. Our team worked closely with Black & Decker’s in-house design team to create a look with reassuring visual links to gas mowers. The two batteries atop the cutting deck form a central power hub that creates a visual analogy with gas-powered engines.

Overall the color balance has more black and gray than Black & Decker’s previous generation cordless mowers. Orange is used for accents and highlights rather than as the main color to make the mower look more powerhouse and less toy-like.

Launched in spring 2017, the 60V MAX POWERSWAP 20 in Cordless Mower’s sales have exceeded Black & Decker’s expectations. In 2018, the product was honored with a Gold award in appliance DESIGN’s Excellence in Design competition

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