Horizon CDT Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Smart Fast Moving Consumer Goods to Support Everyday Activities

  Gustavo Berumen (2017 cohort)   www.nottingham.ac.uk/~lpxjgb

Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) are products that are sold quickly and at a relatively low cost and have a short lifespan [1]. Whether it be through our encounters with packaged foods, beverages, or toiletries, it is almost impossible to spend a day without coming into contact with a FMCGs of some sort. For a perspective of the prevalent pervasiveness of FMCGs, in an average a house in the United Kingdom, it was found that its inhabitants have more than 300 interactions involving FMCGs in a given day [2]. FMCGs are part of a myriad of routines and practices we perform on a daily basis and they contribute to the factors in people’s daily lives that cause them to succeed or fail to meet their goals [3]. An understanding of how FMCGs are used would be essential to identifying areas in which FMCGs have an opportunity to better serve people’s needs. Through careful observations in the field, we aim to understand how people interact with FMCGs. We then aim to develop smart FMCGs using those insights. Smart FMCGs would have the ability to record information about their uses and provide more feedback and personalized services to people. As a somewhat naïve, yet illustrative example, a smart toothpaste bottle could play a pleasant tune through a smart-assistant when a person brushes their teeth to encourage the persistence of such routine. The feedback given to the consumer concerning their smart FMCGs usage and the subsequently tailored experiences such FMCGs would provide could have a truly positive impact on people’s wellbeing by allowing them to make better use of the products they commonly consume.


We endeavour to support and/or improve to be defined people’s practices in which FMCGs are part. This will be accomplished by intervening in those practices through a “smart” digital layer on FMCGs. Our aim is composed of the following objectives:

  1. To gain an understanding of practices (e.g. cooking and grooming) associated with the use of FMCGs.

  2. To develop interventions using FMCGs prototypes equipped with a digital layer in order to improve or support the selected practices (e.g. by supporting product sustainability).

  3. To deploy our interventions into the field and explore their impact on people’s practices and experiences.

  4. To obtain a systematic understanding of the design space around which the smart FMCGs will be deployed

We endeavour to support people’s capacity to improve their usage of FMCG through the addition of a “smart” digital layer to FMCG. This aim is divided into the following parts:

  1. To understand the practices associated with the use of FMCG in the field.

  2. To identify areas where FMCG can better cater to people’s activities

  3. To develop smart FMCG prototypes with the use of insights collected from people and using principles of nudge theory.

  4. To deploy our smart FMCG prototypes into the field and measure their effects on influencing people’s activities

Research questions

  1. How do people perform practices (e.g. cooking and grooming) associated with the use of FMCGs?

  2. How can we develop effective interventions to support or improve the selected practices by using FMCGs equipped with a digital layer?

  3. What is the impact of our interventions on people's practices and their associated experiences?

  4. What can be learned from the design space around which the smart FMCGs are deployed?

Research methods

Our research methods will include a mixture of in-situ, observational, and participatory methods in combination with the development of technological probes and their deployment in the field. With such methods, we aim to evaluate the effect of a technological intervention on a selected practice by the addition of a digital layer to FMCGs involved in that practice.

**Impacts **

FMCGs have a ubiquitous presence in our lives and impact on our behavior. As of now, such information remains scarce despite its relevance. Smart FMCGs will allow people to have a clearer perception of how the usage of these products affects their lives for the first time. Such products will also provide features that help people to make better use of FMCGs.

Our project would allow Horizon CDT to pioneer research on how a person’s digital profile could be build based on the information collected with smart FMCGs. This will help Horizon to obtain insights on providing people ways to protect and use such digital profiles.


[1] Borden, N. H. (1964). The concept of the marketing mix. Journal of advertising research, 4(2), 2-7.

[2] Crabtree, A., & Rodden, T. (2004). Domestic routines and design for the home. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), 13(2), 191-220.

[3] Comber, R., Hoonhout, J., Van Halteren, A., Moynihan, P., & Olivier, P. (2013, April). Food practices as situated action: exploring and designing for everyday food practices with households. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 2457-2466). ACM.


Finding Design Opportunities for Smartness in Consumer Packaged Goods (2019). New Directions for the IoT: Automate, Share, Build, and Care Worshop on CHI 2019.

This author is supported by the Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Nottingham (RCUK Grant No. EP/L015463/1) and Unilever.