How Netflix Uses Design to Consistently Meet Customers’ Needs

Created July 19, 2019 The Business Value of Design

While many Nigerians enjoy Netflix, few know the story of how this beloved brand came to be widely known and loved.  A study done a few years ago of the most loved brands* revealed Netflix as the #1 brand on a list of brands that included popular names like Google, Apple, and Amazon.

Even in the Nigerian context, many would list Netflix as one of their favourite brands.

So how did an American company succeed in building a globally relevant, and incredibly user-centered brand loved by many?

Of all the strides Netflix has made in business, one of their most noteworthy is the brand’s use of design, specifically constantly empathizing with their customers, as well as iterating based on data they gather.

Also read: How Duolingo Nailed Their Product Using Design

To fully grasp this brand’s obsession in understanding and delivering on their user’s needs, you’d have to go back to when Blockbuster (a movie rental service that was Netflix’s rival then) existed. Then people still had to drive the movie store to get their movies, hard to believe right?. I remember that time well cause I was in the States studying. As a young college student, watching movies was a common hobby. At the time I didn’t have a car and so couldn’t enjoy the experience of renting movies cause the Blockbuster store was too far away. So when my roommate told me about Netflix, I was elated.

Netflix had clearly understood this pain point of mine and other users like me and had created a DVD/CD home delivery service, this simply let you rent movies online and have them delivered straight to your door. When you were done, all you had to do was to mail back the movies and the next ones on your list would be immediately mailed to you.

Now, this was heaven! For the millions of customers across the United States with this problem, this brand had solved a problem other companies had ignored. Fast forward to today and Netflix is still dominating, they long since moved from that model while pushing Blockbuster out of the market. Now, this was as far back as 2006/2007, how could a company know then that they could bypass physical rental stores to deliver movies to your house? The simple answer is empathy for the customer, taking time out to ‘walk in your customers’ shoes allows you to think outside the box, outside your office walls and conference rooms. The solution you come up with will undoubtedly be distinct and genuinely respond to real customer needs.

I know we talk a lot about the design process, and we specifically hone in on powerful practices like empathy and understanding your customers, but that’s because they work.

To delight your customers, to innovate and to disrupt industries like Netflix has done, design processes such as empathizing with your customers, walking in their shoes, living in their world and then taking back relevant data to improve your business offering or even to using what you’ve found to create a whole new product or service, is an integral part of incorporating design within your company.

In McKinsey’s 2018 report highlighting results from their quest to discover Design’s value to businesses around the world, they found that companies leveraging design ‘increased their revenues and total returns to shareholders (TRS) substantially faster than their industry counterparts did over a five-year period.’

Yet they discovered, ‘Over 40 percent of the companies surveyed still aren’t talking to their end users during development’.

They further listed 4 main themes they found that stood out with these ‘best design performers’ . These were:
i) design-led, in other words, companies that had leadership that encouraged design and drove it with the same rigour as revenues and costs.
ii) companies that incorporated design across all departments without silos,
iii) continuous understanding, iteration, and testing with customers and
iv) a deliberate effort to producing a seamless and delightful user experience across all touchpoints (digital, physical and service).

Though they researched companies in the medical technology, consumer goods, and retail banking industries, this process cuts across all industries.

Also check out our blog post on Top UI UX Trends To Watch In Product Design

How you, as a Nigerian Business can incorporate this within your business to drive similar results

In Nigeria, businesses have begun to see the value for themselves, however, much slower than the rest of the world.

To drive design within your company, the 4 themes listed above are critical, however, to quickly jump in would be taken deeper steps to meet your customers where they’re at, and deeply understand them. Then using what you discover to inform your solutions to them. Start putting your customer at the center and you’re on your way to making the same impact as Netflix did, and is still doing.

Do you have questions on how to incorporate design in your business or in new product offerings? DODO offers design services to businesses across industries. Email [email protected] with any questions you may have.


If you’re looking to convince your top management on trying out design in your company, this will be a great case study to share with them.


*Study done on brands in the UK by The Love Index study, conducted by design consultancy Fjord and Accenture Interactive

  • DODO admin



    Susan is an avid lover of design. When she’s not working, you can find her reading, eating or admiring anything that’s a combination of aesthetics and functionality done right.

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