WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES
Our clients, who were in development of an electric vehicle (EV), wanted to understand the consumer reality of owning such a vehicle: what’s it’s like to live with an electric car, day-to-day?
They were conscious that those responsible for the design development were removed from the reality of everyday consumer needs – despite their technical understanding of the model.
There was a requirement to bridge this knowledge gap quickly and without the cost of a full-blown research project.
Typically, for such a challenge, we would undertake an ethnographic approach. However, given that there was neither the time nor budget available for such a detailed study, we had to think laterally and look for a more immediate, low-cost alternative.
A member of the HPS MMEYE team, Sherine Arafa, was actively considering buying an electric car. On the face of it, she’s an ideal target for the product under development: living in a London suburb, and commuting into central London. She’s a frequent driver, looking for a small, city-style car to replace her current car. Hoping for something modern, fuel efficient and, ideally, eco-friendly, an electric car appears to be a perfect match. The only potential obstacle is that she lives in a flat, with no access to charging at home (a frequent problem for urban dwellers).
Sherine hired a BMW i3 (with range extender) and took to the road. With a combination of everyday self-ethnography, and a day of professional video footage, Sherine lived the EV ‘dream’, experiencing two weeks of ownership. She travelled and charged in different locations, testing the product to see how well it would meet her needs.
Two weeks of experience were condensed into a six-minute video that allowed our client’s internal teams to be fully immersed in the world of EV ownership, and walk a mile in the shoes of an EV “owner”.
The client reaction was immediate and positive. The video changed the assumptions and expectations that had underpinned the product development, forcing a change in perspective and providing an essential reality check.
The need to attract an urban customer and the reality that many of these would not be able to charge at home, combined with the complexity of charging elsewhere, demanded a refocus on the importance of EV range provision.