Just like you, we walk down the aisle of our local superstore or club wondering whether today is the day we might find good design at mass retail. It’s not like it never happens. Target has a history of partnering with fashion designers like Philip Lim or Cynthia Rowley and architects like Michael Graves but it doesn’t seem translate outside of branded label products.

Costco sells this chair we designed for $99 everyday. It is as highly featured and comfortable as chairs that retail for $100 more. But, even this chair had to sneak into the system. It started as a very small test run that did so well no one could ignore the results compared to all their other chairs. So, why is it so hard to find good design at mass retail in non-celebrity brands? Don’t we “expect more” from Bullseye products and Kirkland brand?

Unfortunately, the retail selection and buying process for non-licensed products is stacked against good design at mass retail. Until mass retailers measure their buyers on the satisfaction of consumers and reward them for choosing products that sell-through quickly because they are in high demand, nothing will change. Buyers will buy based on price and margin decisions only – not based on what you really want to buy. It is in your control though. Stop buying under duress. Unless you love it, look elsewhere. Be sure to review products that fail to meet your definition of good design.

Good Design at Mass Retail is Possible with Collaboration

The good news is that we are just as frustrated as you are and are pushing change from within by trying to make it enticing for buyers to use designers like us for direct source design. We are also working directly with factories to improve the products they present to buyers. This way, we advocate for consumers, especially women, as early in the buying process as possible to get good design to mass retail.

In our most recent installments to the Brainstorm to Box video series, we discuss our definition of good design, how we ended up designing  for mass retail and why it really shouldn’t be so hard to find good design at mass retail from Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club, Office Depot or other big box stores.

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