Turning to Design Research for Vehicles of the Future

DESIGN RESEARCH | PRODUCT STRATEGY | DESIGN

Using Insight-Based Design Strategy to Develop Future Vehicles

Background and Business Problem

As China grew to become world’s largest automotive market, automotive brands paid more and more attention to Chinese consumers’ preferences when designing next-generation vehicles. Insight-based design capabilities play an important and strategic role in developing future concepts and services that are aligned with Chinese consumers’ values. Companies that lack these capabilities internally often turn to experts to help them get up to speed through hands-on projects.

Based on our prior work in the industry, we were recently invited by a top German automotive brand to identify design directions and innovation opportunities for future A-segment vehicles. In the process, we also helped their newly established China-based design team enhance its design research capabilities and adopt consumer insights into the style-oriented concept development approach.

Utilizing the “learn by doing” approach allowed our client to fully participate in a guided design research journey from start to finish without the risk of making mistakes or developing bad habits.

Results & Impact

Performing design research is similar to the scientific method where research results are used to either validate initial hypotheses or establishing new ones. However design research has to be conducted in a way that prevents participants from focusing only on information that validates their personal experiences or falling into “group think” status. 

We were able to show our client how their initial approach of simply using desk research and internal sharing sessions made them more inclined to fall into the self-validation trap and how the research we performed together allowed them to see things from consumers’ perspective. 

Research through interaction with target consumers challenged a lot of the initial assumptions about the “Post-90” population and helped the team gain more empathy and understanding. 

These new findings helped the team gain a deeper understanding of the “Post-90s”, and allowed the team to better forecast consumers' expectations – providing inspiration and design direction for future vehicle designs.

If you find yourself with a similar challenge please contact us to see how we can help bridge your next. 

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