In yesterday’s The Apprentice, broadcast on BBC1 on 28th March, Alan Sugar tasked his group of hopeful entrepreneurs with creating a gadget for the home that they would conceive, test with a focus group, design and pitch to both Amazon and Lakeland. The boys’ team chose to make something for the kitchen whereas the girls decided to tackle something for the bathroom.
Obviously, this means that our professional curiosity was piqued. The girls floated two ideas: a sort of pillow device to cover the bathroom taps with to make bathing more relaxing and comfortable and a splash screen for use when bathing children. Although the focus group (which noticeably included a number of parents) came down strongly on the side of the pillow device, the team came down in favour of the splash screen for sake of ease of manufacture. Selling a wide variety of taps, we do understand that taps come in many different shapes and forms and that finding a way to affix something to all of them and successfully cover them all would be difficult. However, no one seemed particularly inspired by the splash screen. It most resembled a post office counter and provided precious little protection from splashing.
To us, the splash screen seemed largely redundant when you consider that a shower screen does the same job. It was also alarmingly expensive: we may work to tight margins to make sure that our customers get the best possible prices but quoting margins of nearly 300% to retailers seemed fanciful (this means that they were telling the retailer they could charge the customer roughly 4 times what they themselves had bought the items for). Add in the fact that the splash screen seemed massively overpriced even at cost and not particularly well designed and it wasn’t an altogether massive surprise when the girls lost the challenge and their product was identified as one of the main reasons they had done so.
By limiting themselves to people bathing their children the girls had cut down their potential target market. The first stage of their brief was to find a problem that needed solving, the second was to check this with potential customers, and then to design and manufacture their product. There was little to no interest in the bath screen yet they persevered regardless. While we know there is a great deal of innovation in the bathroom sector and lots of great products out there, we’re sure they could have found something which was a more pressing problem and created a product with more universal appeal. Who knows, we may even have ended up stocking it.
As an aside, if you are a parent who is having trouble with your children splashing about when you bathe them, consider one of our range of shower bath suites which all have purpose designed screens to prevent splashing and we’re not making ridiculous margins on.