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. I love being a mom but that’s not all I am. To me, when you get a minivan, you’re extending that even to your car—you’re a mom. I’m not ready. I don’t want to lose myself. Even though I have kids, I’m still a person."

After developing a robust understanding of the minivan stigma, we helped create a design strategy that led to the Chrysler Pacifica, a vehicle that was designed to compete with minivans like the Honda Odyssey but also with large SUVs like the Chevy Traverse. The Pacifica has won many awards including Cars.com’s “2018 Family Car of the Year.”

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