Overcoming the Minivan Stigma

Minivans offer exemplary functionality for families, but many consumers strongly dislike the personal identity it projects. We conducted an ethnographic study to understand this identity problem more deeply. As we conducted interviews and drive-along sessions, we paid close attention to how specific vehicle design cues evoke different emotions and personal identities. A mother of two from Chicago, who bought a RAV4 instead of a minivan, explained her point of view: “I don’t see myself in a minivan. I feel like I would lose part of myself... MORE


A Vehicle with broad cultural appeal

An automotive company sought our help developing a vehicle with broad, international appeal. We designed an immersive research program that took us inside the daily lives of consumers in four countries: China, Brazil, Italy, and US. Early on, we recognized the challenge of finding a coherent thread across substantial cultural differences. We learned, for instance, that Chinese consumers were interested in an eye-catching type of design they refer to as “daqi” (pronounced dah-chee); Italian consumers needed a vehicle that would fit into their tiny garage spaces... MORE

the Symbolism of the Pick-up Truck  

An automotive company approached us with an interesting question: what is the future of pick-up trucks as the US becomes more urban and reliant on services? In order to understand what a truck should become in the future, we first had to uncover what makes a truck a compelling vehicle in peoples' lives today. Through an immersive ethnographic study of the lives of pick-up truck owners and their families, we learned that people are drawn to trucks for their symbolism more than any particular physical capability.  MORE