Generations Design Direction for Toyota
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Conceiving a vehicle for empty nesters
Before it introduced a vehicle for empty nesters, Toyota partnered with IDEO to understand the lifestyles, attitudes, and values of customers in this life stage. The car giant, which had won over the Baby Boom generation in America back in the 1970s, was ready to re-appeal to these customers, now emerging empty nesters, with a vehicle that moved beyond minivans and SUVs.
IDEO set out to develop a deep understanding of empty nester’s wants and needs with respect to future vehicles. Through ethnographic research, the design team identified five areas of “need” that built upon Toyota’s core brand: comfort, or the need for a vehicle that fits them as they age, without being perceived as indulgent luxury; smart, or a good value; utility, or the appropriate scaling of the larger vehicles they’ve previously owned; transformation, the car’s ability to adapt to changing needs, such as increased cargo or comfortably accommodating adults in the backseat; and expression, or the need to feel that a vehicle reflects its owner’s character and style (rather than being just another sensible sedan that’s indistinguishable from the thousands of others on the road).
IDEO also identified three lifestyle themes for the vehicle: wellness, which applies to the individual and the environment; sophistication, which communicates vitality, activity, and sociability; and Crossover Utility Vehicle, which expresses the beauty of function and the enabling of one’s chosen lifestyle through thoughtful and practical features.
As a result of defining the vehicle’s market segment and the related design principles, IDEO’s work contributed to the design of the Toyota Venza, which launched in the winter of 2008.
Project date: 2008