FORD TAKES CONCEPT RESEARCH TO THE STREETS: TRANSIT CONNECT FAMILY ONE

ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 3, 2009 ““ To understand the unique wants and needs of families with young children, the Ford Transit Connect Family One concept team took to the streets.

The objective of this grassroots outreach was to gain a better understanding of the family vehicle requisites and preferences of parents who are in a busy, yet rewarding lifestage. Insights gleaned from this initiative encouraged the concept team to aim for a higher level of engagement with the vehicle, among youthful passengers.

Traditionally, this type of consumer-directed product research project would involve a bid process among outside suppliers, multiple briefing meetings and a detailed project timeline. Instead, the nimble team of planners, designers and product marketers behind the Family One concept vehicle elected to personally conduct consumer research to get first hand input ““ a deeper understanding ““ and accelerate learning.

In October, the team arranged a display of five family-friendly people mover vehicles from Ford’s global product portfolio outside the Hands-On Museum in Ann Arbor, Mich., a popular regional family destination. Guest respondents ““ representing 200 participating families ““ were invited to experience the display vehicles and were questioned regarding their individual preferences, likes and dislikes and asked to describe the type of person they envisioned as a driver of each vehicle.

“It’s all about families,” said Brandt Coultas, an advanced product marketing specialist and project leader for the grassroots research initiative. “While parents appreciate the great fuel economy, kids really like the expansive windows.”

Beyond the cost reduction and time savings, the Transit Connect Family One concept team came to understand that parents with younger children are open-minded to a fuel-efficient vehicle specifically targeted to their unique family needs. Families see value in the Transit Connect Family One combination of style and space. The concept also is a tangible demonstration of the adaptability of Ford’s global Transit Connect platform.

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