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 FMCG of some sort. For a perspective of the prevalent pervasiveness of FMCG, in an average a house in the United Kingdom, it was found that its inhabitants have more than 300 interactions involving FMCG in a given day [2]. FMCG 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 FMCG are used would be essential to identifying areas in which FMCG have an opportunity to better serve people’s needs. Through careful observations in the field, we aim to understand how people interact with FMCG. We then aim to develop smart FMCG using those insights and principles from behavioral change theory [4]. Smart FMCG 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 FMCG 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 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 question

How can smart FMCG provide feedback and services that assist people in using them to properly fulfil their needs while protecting people's digital profile?

Research methods

Our main research method will be evaluations in the real-life setting of smart FMCG prototypes. We will develop smart FMCG prototypes based on insights of FMCG use obtain through ethnographic observations and principles of behaviour change theory. A selected group of participants will be asked to use the smart FMCG prototype in their daily lives in order to evaluate the prototypes effectiveness and people’s experiences.


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 FMCG.

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.

[4] Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2008). Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. New Haven, CT Yales University Press.

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