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Kimberly-Clark Embraces Virtual Reality

Nov. 16, 2007
New design studio uses advanced technologies to drive innovation and strengthen customer relationships.

Virtual reality technology has found its footing in many industries and applications, including healthcare, automotive and aerospace. Now, consumer goods manufacturer Kimberly-Clark has incorporated proprietary virtual reality technology into its new Innovation Design Studio, and it expects big payback from its technological leap.

Located in Neenah, Wis., the Innovation Design Studio has as its core a visualization room with virtual reality technologies and equipment, including a high-tech kiosk called the K-C SmartStation. The new design center will not only drive innovation, but also help the company become a better partner to consumers and retailers, the manufacturer says.

"By engaging ourselves and our customers in this virtual world, we can spark better ideas to improve the shopping experience and collaborate on new product concepts and innovations," says Ramin Elvaz, Kimberly-Clark vice president of North Atlantic Insight, Strategy and Growth.

Kimberly-Clark's Innovation Design Studio includes virtual reality technology.One obvious benefit introduced with the new simulation technology is the ability to reduce the time and cost associated with physical mock-ups of new product ideas. Also, Kimberly-Clark will use the tools to elicit immediate customer feedback on new product initiatives.

However, Kimberly-Clark is particularly enthused about how the design center can help its retail partners improve their in-store designs and merchandising. For example, using the virtual reality technology and K-C SmartStation, the manufacturer can create store models, allowing retailers to envision hypothetical store designs and merchandising concepts. Likewise, eye-tracking technology in the high-tech kiosk allows the study of consumers' reactions in simulated shopping settings to determine how different environments or packaging impact buying decisions.

It's already proven effective. The consumer goods manufacturer says it has worked with Safeway to create a new baby care aisle for the supermarket chain. Test stores show increased sales in several product categories.

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