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Can one button save someone’s life?


A line of smoke detectors sets a new bar for safety, and helps Coleman dominate the category.


Coleman needed to expand their offering while staying true to their brand DNA. Ziba responded by identifying a new market—home safety—then designing an innovative product line that redefined the category.
  • Challenge

    When Coleman sought to extend their brand beyond outdoor equipment, they came to Ziba to help determine how to do it. Their existing brand equity of security, reliability and trust translated naturally to the category of home safety devices, so we helped them think beyond the lantern, with a new line of smoke detectors. At the time, most smoke detectors offered a confusing, frustrating customer experience: struggling to silence one after accidentally triggering it is something nearly everyone’s experienced. For the elderly, it can even be dangerous, requiring that they climb onto a chair. A detector disabled due to nuisance alarms is a real hazard for everyone.

  • Solution

    The Ziba team responded to this insight by developing a revolutionary—and now widely-copied—“broom button” that delivered a vastly superior customer experience by making disarming and testing far easier. We also designed a simple packaging and communication system to differentiate Coleman detector models based on rooms and areas of the house: extreme sensitivity for bedrooms, broader tolerances for heat and smoke in the kitchen, and so on. These CX innovations helped Coleman’s new line of smoke detectors stand out in a crowded marketplace, and eventually became so widely embraced that they’re now standard across the industry.

  • Impact

    A combination of accessible innovation, unique features and smart packaging—along with their established brand equity—enabled Coleman to enter a new market and quickly dominate it. The new line of smoke detectors captured 40% of market share within a year, while saving $2M in manufacturing costs annually. Coleman sold their smoke and carbon monoxide detector business to Siebe
in 1999.

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smoke detector market share within a year of launch

About Coleman

Coleman is one of America’s most trusted brands of outdoor recreation products.


  • User Research
  • Insights & Trends
  • Product Design
  • Engineering


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