Shower thoughts about reinventing the shower

15.26, Wednesday 6 Mar 2024

Let’s redesign the shower.

Prompted by this post on X/Twitter: You’re the product head for a startup that’s looking to disrupt the way people take showers. What is your MVP?

Three ideas!

“Appliance” showers that you can install anywhere

Ok so my hunch behind the popularity of air fryers, and instant pot before that, is that people are renting more and later into life. Which changes the living context.

When a rented home has a poor fitted stove, you can’t upgrade (the landlord won’t let you, and you couldn’t take it with you if you did). But simultaneously you have growing disposable income. Hence the popularity of better counter-top kitchen appliances.

How would you bring up-market showers to renters? Same way.

You’d make some kind of watertight, self-enclosed, easy-to-plumb-in shower booth that could fit in any corner. And easy to un-plumb and move to the next place.

Bonus points: integrated drier so you don’t need a towel.

Where you’d go next with this shower appliance, taking advantage of its high integration, is to make it wildly efficient…

Pretty much everything that uses energy nowadays emits baseline guilt measured in cash and carbon. Long, hot showers are a luxury paid for in concern. And therefore avoided. (We must ask ourselves, what is the long-term societal consequence of a million un-thought shower thoughts.)

So these “appliance” showers would aim to be low-background-guilt showers by recycling heat and water for as long as you choose to soak there.

It’s similar to home solar resulting in a feeling of energy abundance: I’ve stopped worrying about electricity use, both economically and ethically.

(Thanks Nick Baum for telling me about Orbital showers which do exactly this only in an installed context.)

Give away the showers, sell the single-serving soap

Nespresso pod shower heads.

I can’t believe there’s not already a company giving away shower heads with a special slot for their proprietary soap pods.

The idea being that, instead of tediously soaping yourself with shower gel, perhaps over-soaping or missing areas, you place a single-serving pod in the shower head which acts as a carefully calibrated dispenser, efficiently incorporating the cleaning gel into the hot water at the appropriate moment. Simply discard/recycle the empty pod after each shower and select another unique soap experience tomorrow.

I mean, look, yes, this is possibly the teeniest bit evil, or at least distasteful, but it’s fun to chase these things down and see where they lead.

Remember Juicero? The internet-connected juicer that sold single-serving juice pods. As I said then, it’s a channel not a product.

Channels are all about owning an extremely strong customer relationship with integrated marketing and commerce.

So you’d build the shower channel by making a technologically way better shower head – auto-descaling, programmable dynamic, pressure, telematics synced with Apple Health, something something AI, that calibre of thing. Then give it away.

A channel means a focus on the customer relationship. So let’s integrate free streaming radio, maybe shower coaches, Peloton-style, who relax you by murmuringly narrating your daily exfoliation, or psyche you up for the office.

Finally, the business bit: you buy cases of pods, one-click from the app, three dozen per variety pack.

Insert your shower gel for the day. Turn on the water.

The pods are where it’s at.

You’d have exclusive partnerships with fragrance brands.

Limited-edition collabs and drops. Dove Go Fresh (Taylor’s Version).

I think you’d lean into performance showers…

Like, you know there’s that weird connection between the alt right and smart drugs? You’d push soap pods that are going to make you perform better in today’s big negotiation; soap pods that get you benching more at the gym; soap pods with trace caffeine; nootropic soap pods that supposedly overclock your brain. Etc.

Carbonated water

Every product needs a strong narrative hook for launch.

You could contrive some benefits of carbonating shower water, I’m 100% sure of it…

The oxygenising effects of bubbles on the skin, for instance, leading to a scientifically measurable decrease in seven signs of aging.

Micro cavitation, the tiny shock waves resulting from from carbonation bubble collapse, increases surface blood flow, promoting healing. You could scare up some lab or another to publish a paper about that I guarantee.

Hey, hyper-aerated ice cream Halo Top has half the calories - because it’s only half the ice cream - and goes hard on the healthy indulgence angle: Stop when you hit the bottom.

So you’d ride those health-brand coattails and also talk about reduced water usage. You’re saving money, it pays for itself.


Who knows whether it would do any of those things. It kinda doesn’t matter.

BUT. People would talk about it. So you’re halfway there.

You’ve heard of bubble bath. Meet the fizzy shower.

look I don’t write the copy I’m the ideas guy.

PREVIOUSLY: Carbonating beef broth for fun and profit.

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