Case Study: Baby-Strollers as a Service
Designing the Sustainable Design Experience for Bugaboo
Baby-Strollers as a Service is a concept we developed for a sustainable design course (2016).
For the rent-over-own, everything as a service generation, we couldn’t think of a brand that appeals more to the hipster mom and dad than Bugaboo. And in the world of parenting, there is a ginormous and desperate need to improve its products and services.
We developed a sustainable design concept by honing in on the pain points dealing with parenting. The result was two different types of services that address parents travel needs and another that adapts based on the growing needs of the infant.
Defining the Experience
Let’s start with the idea of a baby stroller. Yes, they are designed to maximize the well-being and comfort of infants. For parents, however, they are not ideal for several reasons.
One, they are expensive. The average cost of a stroller can range from 100€–400€.
Two, strollers are difficult to carry. Traveling somewhere? You can’t just pick up a stroller at a foreign destination; you need to take that contraption with you on a flight and handle all the logistics on your own.
And three, baby strollers are wasteful. When you consider that babies usually outgrow them within a few months, the whole point of investing in a stroller seems fruitless.
We don’t need strollers for better comfort. We need strollers that could identify and address the needs of a parent. Bugaboo’s existing model focuses on product retail. A customer pays for the product. Then the customer leaves with the product. End of story/transaction. But it’s not the end of the parent’s relationship with the product.
• The inconvenience of carrying heavy equipment for long-distance travel
• Having to store all equipment in one place
• Not knowing what to do with the product when finished
• Buying all accessories upfront
Asking the ‘What if’s’
Our service design concept came from asking the “what if’s” for every pain point. What if you didn’t have to carry a stroller for long-distance travel? What if you didn’t have to store any equipment? What if you knew exactly how to dispose of the product when finished using it? What if you never had to purchase any accessories?
But giving a solution to these questions requires thinking differently about the current business model. The only path forward here is to reconsider Bugaboo not as a product retailer but rather as a service provider.
By prioritizing access over ownership of products, we open up a whole new dimension. For instance, a service-oriented business would require Bugaboo to be invested in its materials. It could use this to its advantage through the further specialization of product design, as components could be provided as an “add-on” service to the stroller.
What if parents didn’t need to carry heavy equipment for long-distance travel? By proposing this question, we came up with “Flying solutions”, a service for parents traveling with their infants.
It’s a service that directly targets the short-term needs of parents when being away from home. The aim is to improve parents traveling experience by eliminating the need to go with a stroller in the first place. Instead, a stroller is sent to the nearest destination. Through a mobile application, parent’s can reserve and organize the logistics.
Another proposed feature includes a modular system, which gives parents the option to add accessories based on the needs of the location. Imagine a tropical destination and choosing a mosquito net for your stroller. Or an umbrella that attaches to a stroller for rain-intensive environments. The possibilities are endless.
For the day-to-day needs of the parents, we developed “Pop-up solutions”. Here we further explored the mid to longer-term needs of the parent. Strollers aren’t bought but rented based on the growing needs of the child.
Two types of services are offered basic and premium. Basic provides the essentials, the stroller. Parents pay a monthly fee and return the stroller when finished. Premium, on the other hand, provides essentials plus additional accessories on demand. Parents pay a higher but have access to additional accessories upon request.
Sustainability entails addressing the social, economic, and environmental elements of a product. By shifting towards a service-oriented model, Bugaboo and other product retailers can expand their business and solve real needs.
Social needs are addressed by addressing the logistical and mobility challenges of a parent. By prioritizing access to a product over proprietorship, we can provide parents with better ways to access products. And finally, by returning the product to the manufacturer when finished, we can ensure products don’t end up in a landfill, and their resources are used for maximum benefit.
Opportunities like these are not far-fetched and can be achieved. But implementing a circular system would entail a more in-depth analysis. Working in this proposal allowed me to see how shifting to a service-oriented model could open up the conversation. Companies that are agile and flexible enough to shift their business model stand a better chance of winning out in the long-term.