Beyond the Pail

It’s a problem many managers would love to have; what to do next when you are already the convincing leader in your market.

The answer – design new products that; meet an unmet need; capture more share of your target market’s wallet; complement your core product range and further strengthen your brand. Cabot’s have successfully deployed this strategy with the Cobalt designed ‘Deck Hand’ bucket, the world’s best and only bucket for applying decking products.

Meeting latent market need

Dulux Group’s leading woodcare brand Cabot’s dominates the interior and exterior woodcare oil, coatings, stains and preparation sub-categories. The challenge for Cabot’s was to achieve additional sales in adjacent categories.

Cabot’s listened to their consumers and identified a need that was not being met for both preparation and application stages of regular decking maintenance. Household buckets are not well suited to being used for Deck Clean which typically fills a standard bucket when diluted, being; too narrow for scrub brushes; unstable; and prone to spillage when being moved around a deck during use. The situation is even worse when applying the deck oil to cleaned and prepared decks. With the exception of lamb’s wool deck oil applicators, all trays, brushes and application accessories are primarily designed for wall paint use. For example, a typical paint roller tray holds only half a litre, nowhere near enough to complete a typical deck (approximately 10L of oil is required to cover an average-large deck with 2 coats).

The lack of specific decking tools has led to confusion amongst DIY users, unsure of what tools they need to complete a decking maintenance job, and in DIY, confusion leads to inaction and the loss of a sale. Meeting this need for a decking oil specific bucket provided the basis for our brief; design and develop a high quality bucket and tray specifically for the preparation and application stages of decking oil application jobs.

Empathising with the user

In order to better understand the user experience, several Cobalt team members were sent home with Cabot’s and competitor products to experience deck maintenance first hand!
Experiencing and observing the user experience first-hand equips our designers with a more intuitive understanding of the challenges faced by real users and of the weaknesses in the product or experience. These ‘problems’ are each catalysts for novel solutions that would otherwise have been unlikely to have been considered.

The result

The Deck Hand bucket has a unique flippable drainage tray, which can be flipped down when undertaking deck preparation and flipped up during the coating phase. Its wide surface area is suitable for broom heads and its 15L capacity ensures it’s also ideal for cleaning large areas.

In the tray-down position the bucket and tray efficiently nest for transport and logistics, as well as retailing. For users this means the tray will never go missing somewhere in their shed!

In the tray-up position the open grille surface allows users to pad off excess decking oil from applicators whilst guaranteeing that no decking oil is wasted with the excess draining back into the reservoir. Its capacity easily swallows up to 10L of deck oil without submerging the drainage tray.

Through careful user observation, user-centred features were incorporated into the bucket’s design:

  • The bucket’s cavity serves two purposes. It reduces the internal capacity whilst allowing a tray large enough to accommodate an applicator head, and it can also be used to ‘steer’ the bucket along a deck by using your foot.
  • Spaces are built-in to allow cutting-in brushes and can openers to be conveniently stowed within the bucket during use
  • Small depressions in the bucket allow a scrub broom or applicator to be securely rested on the bucket without rolling off
  • A large single handle is provided for easy carrying of the bucket when empty, but discourage lifting of a full buckets
  • The visual language of the bucket was designed to convey rugged utility. The buckets walls were deliberately kept thicker than average to make the product be and feel indestructible.

Australian owned, designed and made

Cobalt proposed the Deck Hand bucket be locally moulded in Australia, which provides real advantages in supply, logistics and quality. Just as importantly local production also reinforces Cabot’s position as an Australian company producing products that stand up to Australia’s harsh outdoor environments.

Cabot’s Deck Hand bucket is the perfect example of well conceived and rapidly executed new product development that nails the unmet needs of everyday users. Through user analysis and deliberate design, we were able to produce a whole new product that will tangibly make coating your decking easier.

More info: cabots.com.au