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A Method for Determining Customer Needs in the Developing World

[+] Author Affiliations
Amy E. Wood, Christopher A. Mattson

Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Paper No. DETC2014-35357, pp. V02AT03A047; 13 pages
  • ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 2A: 40th Design Automation Conference
  • Buffalo, New York, USA, August 17–20, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4631-5
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


There are currently 1.4 billion people in the world living on less than $1.25 a day. Many engineers have designed products intended to alleviate the poverty faced by these individuals but most of these products have failed to have the desired impact. This is largely because we as engineers do not clearly understand the needs of people in poverty, which is understandable as it is particularly hard to determine needs in this context. This lack of understanding is usually because the engineer and the resource-poor individuals are from different cultures, because the engineer has no personal experience with life in poverty, and because the engineer has limited access to suitable market surrogates for testing and validation. This paper presents a method for determining the needs of resource-poor individuals in the developing world. The method presented here is organized into four steps to be completed within three different stages of need finding. Engineers and designers can follow these steps to more accurately determine the needs of resource-poor individuals as they design a product. The paper also includes examples of this method being used to determine customer needs for products in India and Peru.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME



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