biild team reviewing concept sketches with client

Our recent consumer survey shows 3 in 4 UK adults want purpose-led, long-lasting, and easily repairable products. Only 11% of those surveyed would be willing to sacrifice the functionality of a product, and 75% are willing to pay 10% above average for a purpose-led product.

That’s a clear shift in consumers that shows purpose-led is an expectation.

But what does that mean for your product design?


How does purpose apply to products?


Previously, the world’s most liked products were those which offered a clear solution to a problem. Their purpose was to be a solution to a here and now problem, like how the fridge solved food storage woes, the smartphone made 24/7 communication possible, and the ballpoint pen made writing faster and cheaper.

Since then, the purpose of a product has evolved. The solution still plays a part but there’s so much more to apply to a product with a purpose.


Purpose-led products


A purpose-led product is motivated by a core mission. It exists to solve a problem, meet a need in society, or to solve our planet’s energy and climate crisis.

Solving a problem is a still a key part but there’s now want and opportunity to go beyond individual problems. A purpose-led product takes an idea from solving a problem to making an impact.

Previously, only some elements of a product were considered from a sustainable and inclusive point of view, now the full impact a product has throughout its entire lifecycle needs to be addressed.

This can include responsibly sourcing materials, ensuring inclusivity of the design like via Fairtrade channels or by including design features for disabled people, adding reparability options, and planning for the product end-life phase with easy recyclability.

Product designs can and should now include solutions to wider ranging issues to empower us all to live in a world where responsibly designed products improve our lives collectively.


What is pragmatism in product design?


Be wary not to mistake purpose-led design with idealistic design.

The difference between a purpose-led and an idealistic product is pragmatism. An idealistic product falls into the trap of being unattainable. It might use materials that don’t exist or insist on behavioural changes that, while noble, consumers simply aren’t ready to make.

For example, our survey highlights that only 16% are willing to compromise on convenience for purpose. While consumers want to be part of the new era, they like most brands need time to adjust to it.

Pragmatism thereby ensures your purpose becomes a reality. It can be produced, it can get to market, it can be used by everyone, your customers can be excited about it, and it can be processed responsibly at its end life stage.


Why are both needed to build a great product?


We believe there is a misconception that a product can either be purpose-led or have a great function. The new era of product design shows that the best performing products will need both.

The main reason why purpose needs pragmatism is to empower your business to thrive.

We know from our survey that people are willing to pay premium prices for purpose-led products and they want these products to deliver.  

By combining purpose with pragmatism, we help you get the best of both worlds. Your customers want both, isn’t it time we deliver both?


Design manager, Tim Stern, comments:


“The UK market is saturated with products that can often do one thing. They look good, fulfil a function, are good for the planet or are designed inclusively.

Our latest survey proves that consumers want innovative products that have a purpose while still offering a core solution.

By combining purpose with pragmatism, you can make sure your new products meet the consumer demands without having a large product range that addresses each attribute individually.

It’s a cost-effective approach, creates a product that matters, and empowers your business to succeed financially.”


For more information on how our product design consultancy approaches each project, explore our approach online.

Alternatively, call us on 01909 550 999 or email for a chat.

Why does purpose need pragmatism?

Image of Aaron Seager

By Aaron Seager