Embrace The Blemish


Created as a part of a senior experience design course, a 4-week project.


Project Managment, UX design & Research + Strategy.


A reimagined men's section that integrates and introduces makeup to men as a viable product option while enhancing the assistance provided in an online cosmetics shopping setting to help customers make correct and satisfied purchases.

Discovering the Problem.

Whole Foods launched a pilot project in 2016 to test sales of blemished produce at a reduced price in North California. The project was quietly ended by Whole Foods recently because it was not as successful as they expected. Whole Foods keeps exploring new ways to move toward zero waste.By researching the reasons behind Whole Foods' project's failure, we found two overarching barriers:

Overarching barrier 01: Customers did not accept it because they immediately compared it to the better visually aesthetically products. Customers thought that blemish food is not as fresh, nutritious and delicious as the regular produce.

Overarching barrier 02: The 10-20% reduction in price was not convincing enough. Customers devalued unattractive produce because of altered self-perception: merely imagining the consumption of unattractive, produce negatively affects how consumers view themselves.


At the iteration phase, we came up with 3 "How Might We" questions to help us frame the problems as opportunities:

01: How might we effectively communicate that blemish produce is as nutritious and delicious as regular produce?

02: How might we effectively communicate that the lower price is not related to a lower quality of the product?

03: How might we effectively communicate that selecting the blemished produce is contributing to the environment positively?

Converges down to a more manageable and concise question: How might we effectively communicate facts about blemish food to encourage customers to purchase it?

Iteration Process.

Target Audience Research : Instore vs.Online Shoppers

To generate a solution to overcome the barriers, our team conducted researches on customer behaviours. We found out customers tend to research more on the product while shopping online than in a physical store. Thus, we believe there's a higher chance of convincing online buyers because it can be presented more effectively.

"Low information costs associated with the Internet increase the amount of information gathered by consumers even when they use other-based decision-making processes."

- Prof. Cait Lamberton et al,
  "The Self-Perception Connection: Why Consumers Devalue Unattractive Produce"

Opportunity : Look into the integration with Amazon

Since Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017, the two companies started integrating into several key areas within their ecosystem, including building grocery delivery service through Prime Now for Whole Foods shoppers. While the integration pursues the vision of making Whole Foods Market's high-quality, natural and organic food affordable for everyone, we see potential in incorporating and selling blemish produce from in-store to the online grocery delivery platform.


How might we effectively communicate facts about blemish food to encourage customers to purchase it?

Where in the customer journey might we intervene to encourage customers to purchase blemish produce without increasing cognitive overhead?

Final Solution.

Point of Intervention.

"Add to cart" is an essential part of checking out. We think it is the most applicable period in the customer journey to intervene in because customers have already decided on buying the product.

A Second Chance to Convince Customer.

By implementing a “Learn more” page, we have a second chance to convince customers through interactive and engaging content relating to the truth and benefits of blemish produce.

See the Impact.

The check out page will display their accumulated savings, and the positive impact customers have made to the environment, which potentially enhances their self-fulfillment.

The page will also remind customers of a more natural way to select the blemish option next time by looking for the blemish tag.

Convenience for Returning Customer.

A subtle method to add blemish produce is incorporated on the product listing page to reduce the cognitive overhead for returning customers.


What was interesting about this UX project was that we went through an in-depth process of research, strategy, and conceptualization. All the digital design work came into play at the very end of our design process. There was a need for it, rather than focusing on that aspect from the beginning. This project provided an excellent opportunity to learn about the connections between business and design and the importance of designing with considerations for changes over time. 

Bassam Mirghani © 2020