Coloplast: So you can be you
Coloplast is a prime example of the human-centred approach that is central to the Danish creative DNA: To put user needs at the front and centre and build your products to improve the quality of life of your end-users. The company develops products and services that make life easier for people with very personal and private medical conditions.
For us, it’s about more than products. It’s about giving people the care and support they need to live their lives to the fullest. That’s what we fight for.
New design strategy: ‘Experience DNA’
User needs are the starting point for Coloplast’s design approach and have been since the company’s founder, the nurse Elise Sørensen, designed the first ostomy bag for her sister who was suffering from the aftereffects of cancer. “What comes first is user needs: we listen to users and respect the context they live in. How to produce the product, what machines to use comes next” says Hans Falleboe, Head of Design at Coloplast. The MedTech company based in Humlebæk, Denmark, is so focused on user needs that they do not trust the users to give them the full picture themselves, explains Falleboe:
“Users will often be polite and say ‘we will make this work, no problem’, but in reality there will be lots of pain points in their user journey. Therefore, we spend a lot of effort on anthropological user observation studies: to identify user needs that they are not even aware of, but that we may alleviate by innovating our products. Our products are part of people’s daily lives and we do not want them to be perceived them as medical products or connected to stigmatisation. Ideally, they should think of them as a lifestyle product that blend into their everyday life alongside other lifestyle products”.
What comes first is user needs: we listen to users and respect the context they live in. How to produce the product, what machines to use comes next.
Coloplast launched a new ‘experience DNA’ as part of their design strategy at the beginning of 2021. It is based on the company DNA of making life easier for people with very private medical conditions and as such constitutes an evolution rather than a revolution. But it still has some new elements:
Sustainability has entered the stage as a significant factor: “Our users are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of using 6-8 of our products every day and throwing them away. Therefore, we are looking into how we may challenge our product design and material use to make the products more sustainable without compromising on safety and hygienic considerations. That requires a team effort and a lot of creative development by cross-disciplinary teams of designers, engineers and materials specialists”, says Hans Falleboe, Head of Design.
Digitalisation is another focus area: “We are working on a number of digital concepts to improve the user journey. You shouldn’t have an app just to have an app. We have to remain focused on user relevance. And we have some interesting new things in the pipeline in relation bridging the physical and the digital products to the benefit of users”, says Falleboe.
Global market share
Coloplast is one of the largest companies on the Danish stock exchange by market value
Head of Design
What is your take on innovation?
“We have a strong tradition for innovation based on the study of user needs. But we do not have a golden formula. We struggle with innovation just like everyone else. But I think the most important precondition for innovation is to have an organisation who is willing to learn, and who acknowledges that learning also includes failing sometimes. If you do not experiment and you do not fail sometimes, you do not learn”.
What role does digitalisation play for you?
“We are very focused on relevant technology. That we should not bother users with apps or other digital solutions unless it provides them with a value-add in their experience. This is extremely important with our products. For example, among stoma patients, 91% worry about leakage and 76% have experienced leakage over the past 6 months. If we can enhance the experience of control by having the support of digital tools, then it makes sense”.
How do you learn from other creative disciplines?
“We employ many different creative professions to create the best possible user experience in everything from product use to training of medical staff and marketing. It is important for me to say, that I do not think you have to be a designer to be creative. We believe in cross-pollination between perspectives and we work in multi-disciplinary teams. To be creative is about building on other people’s ideas. That demands a lot of cooperation which again requires a high level of mutual trust that you are all working to achieve the same goal: to make life easier for users”.
Coloplast develops products and services that make life easier for people with very personal and private medical conditions. The company makes intimate healthcare solutions within the fields of Ostomy Care, Continence Care, Wound & Skin Care and Interventional Urology. Coloplast is a prime example of the human-centred approach that is central to the Danish creative DNA: To put user needs at the front and centre and build your products to improve the quality of life of your end-users.
Million people live with a stoma in the US and EU alone