New product development

By Linda Findlay

A European vehicle manufacturer wished to add a utility vehicle to its product range but was undecided as to the format this should take – a mid-range SUV or a pick-up truck (better known as a “bakkie” in South Africa).

BVA BDRC was commissioned to conduct a two-phased study.  The first phase was a desk research exercise to provide background context on the South African economy, the geography / terrain, infrastructure, culture, lifestyle and the current motor vehicle market.

The second phase comprised a series of ethnographies amongst existing SUV and bakkie drivers who used their vehicle for business or for leisure purposes (or both).  The aim was to identify typologies of current owners and really understand how they use their vehicle.

Research participants were each tasked with keeping a photo diary for 2 weeks, noting their usage of the vehicle, where they drove, the terrains they drove on and the features and functionality used in the vehicle.  They also kept a note of the “wow” moments of the drive and the frustrations they encountered along the way.

To get a first-hand feel of the user experience our ethnographers went out on accompanied drives with the research participants, questioning them, photographing them and video recording them as they went about their daily business.  The final part of the interview involved building a collage of the “ideal” utility vehicle, using a wide selection of images portraying different designs and features.

The results of the research in South Africa were combined with the results from 6 other countries and led to the introduction of a cleverly designed new SUV model, featuring a spacious interior, rugged exterior design, 4x4 capability and the ability to customise it for leisure or business purposes.

“Thank you very much for this thrilling report full of abundant results and ideas.  And thank you once more for your involvement in this study. We highly appreciated it.”

Project Manager, Automotive