Design sprinting for sustainability in wine

1 week

Design sprint Prototyping User testing

Sogrape Vinhos distributes high-quality wines, and their wines and ports are sold throughout the world. With the increasing environmental concerns globally, Sogrape recognized the opportunity to contribute to a better future. They’ve already made large improvements in the production processes and they are excited to share this with their customers. But how? How should they share their message about sustainability?

Let’s find the best idea and bring it to life!

Sogrape Vinhos had already thought about some possibilities and ideas on how they could communicate sustainability in wine to their customers. It was time to put these – and many new – ideas to the test. We set out to unravel what resonates with the wine drinkers that Sogrape tailors to.

Using the service design methodology, we explored the best ideas we came up with, by showing them to customers. In a one-week process – the so called Design Sprint – we received tonnes of insights, and by doing this, we prevented spending many resources developing something (in a regular innovation process) that the customers might not even want.


We had an idea that seemed to be great, but soon understood it was based on several uncertainties. The sprint allowed us to look to the challenge and ideas with a different perspective

— Rute Sousa Innovation manager at Sogrape Vinhos

Design sprint approach

Together (Koos and Sogrape) we decided on a design sprint: a focused 5-day process to quickly gather insights from real users. We can tell you, the results were unpredictable and, therefore, very valuable. 

At Koos, we are very passionate about learning and translating user’s needs, especially when it comes to sustainability. So we focused on making this a good one. We used the following steps:

  • Defining the goal: to test how wine drinkers feel about sustainability concerning their wine choices and purchase
  • Determining the main assumptions and which ones to test
  • Going through ideation
  • Building a prototype
  • Testing with real wine consumers

3 key moments

When looking back at this design sprint, we identify three key moments that contributed to its success.

#1. Defining the assumptions: what do we believe to be true?

#2. Making a prototype: the Sogrape team’s effort lead to very real prototypes

#3. Conducting the user test: insights from real independent wine lovers

#1 Define for a good kick-start

Much like any solid research effort, every design sprint starts with defining the assumptions that will be put to the test. We always approach this effort together with company experts, this time with a multidisciplinary team from Sogrape. First we gathered, evaluated and prioritized all our assumptions, during our kick-off session. The mindset and openness from Sogrape team was crucial for a good start; putting great effort on sharing as many assumptions as possible (inside the scope of this project). Secondly we selected the assumptions with the most impact, since these are the statements we are aiming to test. 

#2 Teamwork for perfect prototyping

Prototyping day, often the most exciting day, is also an intense one. No matter the kind of prototype, things always become hectic before getting awesome. Thankfully, the Sogrape team was there to pitch in! Everyone was curious about how things were turning out, and they wanted to get involved. There was so much support, from collecting different materials and samples, to label printing and showing special types of paint for labels. Shoutout to Sogrape, for their curiosity, involvement and actual helping hands! This meant that the prototypes had very high quality with real graphics, resulting in a super-realistic ‘façade’. Because of this, the users in the test could not distinguish the prototypes from real products.


Prototypes in the making

#3 No product survives its first contact with customers

One thing is certain, the goal of the design sprint should never be the seek for acceptance of the prototype by the users. The design sprint is all about collecting valuable insights, it isn’t about the prototype itself.

This time, for example, the prototypes we built, although they looked amazing, didn’t elicit the reaction we were expecting and hoping for. But instead of being disappointed, we listened to what people had to say: fostering the discussion and asking for their reasons why. Because of this, there’s so much useful information to work with. For example, one of the most surprising insights was that, despite the concern over sustainability as a whole, people don’t relate the topic to wine (yet). People’s views on sustainability simply don’t come to mind when making choices on which wine to buy. With this knowledge in mind, Sogrape can refocus the way they want to approach customers on this topic. Knowing the reasons why the prototypes didn’t succeed, showed Sogrape a clear view on how to communicate sustainability right.


House Ferreira Wine Cellar - location of the user tests

Closer to a winning strategy

By the end of the week, we had a tonne of learnings to build on. The outcomes of the user test are now the starting point for a new exploration into how to tailor to the user’s (newly found) needs for information on sustainability. On top of this, we found answers to 4 hypotheses and 20 accompanying assumptions that will bring Sogrape closer to a winning strategy in sustainability!


Thanks Sogrape for teaming up. We were glad to be a part of it and excited to bring innovation to the world of wine! Looking forward to the future.


Are you interested in what service design and design sprints can do for you? Please reach out!

The tools

A nation-wide redesign for permit applications

Building a competitive mobility experience

Tailoring student life to your pocket

Helping defaulters to get back on track

Transforming a Portuguese Telco