The complex customer: applying qualitative methods in automotive NPD

Michael Francesco Alioto and Deana Gillespie
Market Probe, Inc., United States


The main focus of this paper is to illustrate how one Asian automotive manufacturer applied an innovative qualitative research approach utilizing several methods from a number of disciplines across multiple dimensions to gather critical customer input during the creation and development of both vehicle interiors and exteriors for the 2010 year models. This approach consisted of using ideation, innovation, and triangulation methods which were developed in conjunction with experts from multiple disciplines in order to fully assess the future “needs” and “wants” of the next generation of consumers. This essay will attempt to illustrate how this research design was developed, tested, and applied in the advanced product development process. There will be an attempt to illustrate how this qualitative approach is much more than the simple application of various/random traditional qualitative techniques, but rather an integration and application of key methods and techniques which were utilized to illustrate and highlight critical aspects of the product design cycle from the customer's point of view.