This is the html version of the file
G o o g l e automatically generates html versions of documents as we crawl the web.

Google is neither affiliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its content.
These search terms have been highlighted: empathic design 

Page 1
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
Andrew Burns
Richard Barrett
Stephen Evans
Department of Enterprise Integration, Cranfield University, Bedford, England.
Catarina Johansson
University, Department of Human Work Sciences, Lule
, Sweden.
This paper describes joint-action research undertaken by Cranfield University, The
Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) and a major European Vehicle
Manufacturer (EVM). The research investigates the applicability of the Kano Model [1]
to the qualities of mature products and the adoption of an Empathic Design approach in
the development of delighter features. The paper describes the design and use of
Empathic Design tools in the development programme of a real vehicle. Conclusions are
drawn from the analysis of 30 focus group attendees, semi-structured interviews and from
the involvement in the initial deployment of the Empathic Design tools. The future
research direction is outlined.
The automotive industry has become increasingly adept at product development and
lead-time reduction through the adoption of a concurrent engineering approach [2]. This
approach demands an increased emphasis on the earliest stages of product development
and recent research, for example the COGENT project [3], has addressed the importance
of technology planning and integration with component suppliers at this stage. The
reduction of development time for a vehicle means that the design focus and specification
has to be set at the very front end of the development process [4]. If the reduction of lead
times and the cost-benefits associated with them are to be maintained vehicle
manufacturers need to get this design focus right first time [2]. Integration of customer
information into these earliest stages of the design process is still limited and its inclusion
is essential to establish the correct early design focus and to ensure the benefits of
adopting a concurrent engineering approach are fully realised. These benefits have been
identified as a reduction in required engineering effort by half and a reduction of
development time by a third [5].
The role of gathering customer information traditionally lies with external market
research firms and internal marketing departments. Experience from EVM and other
manufacturers identifies several limitations of the techniques currently used. Marketing
techniques and customer surveys have limited scope for capturing positive information
from the customer, this is to say that the actions that can be made in response to this
information tend to be corrective rather than delighting. Customers have difficulty
articulating needs and the intangible aspects of products that please them [6]. This has
lead to a distrust of listening to customers too closely since it is believed the information
they can provide is necessarily inaccurate [7]. However the firm that fails to listen to its
customers can end up an adopter rather than an innovator, trailing the market because
they fail to identify winning next generation ideas that delight the customer and
differentiate their products [8].

Page 2
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
Efforts have been made to get around this contradiction in the past. For example the
Lead User approach advocates the identification of fringe customers who are ahead of the
market because they are early adopters of new technologies [9]. However the consumer
has become so advanced that the market place has become an unpredictable and dynamic
phenomenon [10 & 11] suggesting that product developers that assume Lead Users are
predictors of the market are in a risky business.
Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is currently the industry norm for ensuring a
customer focus in the development process [12]. QFD relies almost wholly on Market
Research data to populate the initial “house” with customer requirements. QFD, although
designed for the task, often fails to translate customer information into design language in
a manner that consistently answers the original customer need [13 & 14]. Furthermore the
organisational barriers that team working and concurrent engineering try to remove are
maintained by the use of specialised marketing departments and external market research
Research Problem
The industrial problem described above leads us to our research question.
How can positive customer information be incorporated into a concurrent engineering
approach to product development, so that the product reliably delights the user?
CUPID is an EPSRC funded exploratory research project taking an action research
approach to this. CUPID builds on three years of background research into the
improvement of QFD and positive customer information capture [14 & 15]. The
researchers have chosen an action research approach to gain a full and industrially
grounded understanding of the problem. By actually affecting the design and
development process of real EVM products the industrial collaborator and the multi-
disciplinary university research team work together to define, understand and solve the
industrial problem. The research team is made up of psychologists, industrial designers
and design engineers who use a process of reflective learning, or learning by doing, to
identify the most workable, feasible and implementable solutions, and the new
knowledge that arises.
The automobile is an extremely mature product for which there is an excessively
competitive global market and considerable over production [2].
Product Attractiveness
EVM conduct extensive benchmarking and have access to objective industry wide data
to suggest that their vehicles are ahead of their competitors in terms of build quality,
reliability and durability [16]. However the subjective response of the market to their
products, demonstrated by their sales figures and market research, does not reflect this
[17]. The Kano Model of product qualities [1] can help explain this and is a theoretical
lynchpin of this research.
The Kano Model of product qualities
Developed by Prof. Kano, the Kano Model categorises customer needs into three types
of feature [1]. Customers are asked a series of questions that identify the importance of
their needs and the following typology of features can be arrived at.
The customer expects Basic qualities to be in the product and as such high levels of
customer satisfaction are hard to achieve by excelling in these areas. The reliability and

Page 3
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
durability of a car might be considered Basic qualities. They do not satisfy when present,
but do dissatisfy when absent.
Linear qualities are those for which the level of customer satisfaction increases with the
level of achievement of these qualities. The boot space and fuel consumption of a car
might be considered Linear qualities. The customer becomes satisfied by improvements
in these scalar features but is only excited at extremely high levels of achievement.
Diagram 1 – Kano Model (adapted from [1])
The Delighter feature excites the customer even at low levels of achievement. The
absence of the feature does not dissatisfy the customer since it was not expected.
Delighter features tend to be novel and as such can differentiate a product from its
Time influences the categorisation of a feature, and this can be best illustrated with an
example. At the time of its introduction the airbag was a truly novel feature. The
unexpected introduction of the feature delights and excites the customer due to its novelty
and the fact that the customer had not realised this need. As competitor manufacturers
adopt this feature the customer comes to expect this feature but the introduction of further
airbags can still excite her/him. The feature becomes Linear since the more airbags the
greater the level of satisfaction. In the future there may come a point when the feature
becomes Basic such that the presence of an airbag no longer delights the customer but
instead the absence of the feature dissatisfies the customer.
A further variation of the automotive market is that the airbag feature may at the same
point in time after its introduction to the market be a Linear feature in one vehicle
segment but a Basic requirement in a higher segment of vehicle.
One of the research goals is to develop reliable and repeatable methods of capturing
delighters from customer information and to gain access to the unarticulated customer
needs that if answered can delight the customer. The Kano Model suggests that if used
properly a deep understanding of customer needs can increase the perceived quality of
the product by delighting the customer and hence an increase in sales can be expected.
The use of customer information
Linear Qualities
Must have
Customer Delight
Customer Very
Quality Not
Achieved at all
Quality Fully

Page 4
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
Currently the industry norm for ensuring that customer requirements are incorporated
into the design of the vehicle is Quality Function Deployment (QFD) [2 & 12]. Previous
research [15, 14, 13 & 18] has highlighted the following limitations of QFD.
Firstly the QFD process requires all product attributes to be accounted for in the
matrices used to translate customer wants into technical hows. For a product as complex
as the car this makes the tool extremely cumbersome and time consuming to implement
in full. Testimony from our collaborators at EVM has confirmed this limitation. The time
involved in completing a QFD implementation on a car can mean that it is done
retrospectively, nullifying its usefulness. EVM report that the tool often fails to
accurately translate the voice of the customer into design specifications resulting in a
product that fulfils the design specification but fails to answer the captured customer
QFD assigns a large amount of importance to scoring mechanisms that engineers and
designers can consider artificial. The scoring is often done by different teams with no
account taken to the different weightings used, and the expertise therefore lies with the
practitioner rather than within the tool itself.
QFD fails to require separate product teams to work together in the problem solving
tasks, merely acting as a communication tool between them. Abbie Griffin [18] has
identified this limitation as a major cause of failed QFD implementations. In addition she
highlights the need for more detailed information direct from the customer for the
successful use of QFD, something that traditional market research fails to provide. Her
study of the use of QFD in a sample of 9 U.S. manufacturers identified that the QFD
process fails to consistently deliver the development process improvements its Japanese
advocates promote. She particularly highlights the limitations of QFD’s use in the
development of clean sheet, innovative or complex products.
It is true to say that many of the problems outlined above can be explained away by the
poor implementation of QFD and other organisational factors, but the tool’s workings
and huge detail required merely exacerbate these deployment issues.
Research scope
The Kano Model highlights the importance of identifying Delighter features for
customer satisfaction and that one way of discovering these is through an understanding
of unarticulated needs. However the market research literature suggests the large-scale
capture of this information is difficult using existing techniques. Furthermore QFD fails
to reliably translate customer information into product features when the product is
complex or innovative.
This research will explore the use of Empathic Design techniques as a method to assist
in the identification of Kano Delighters and consider evolutions of QFD for incorporating
delighter information in the product development process.
The research will take both a psychological and ethnographic approach to understanding
customer delight, in the refinement of the Kano Model and in the development of tools
that can identify product delighters.
An understanding of Empathic Design has been built up through extensive review of the
existing literature, and by conducting semi-structured interviews with two renowned
practitioners of the approach, both international Industrial Design consultancies.
At the foundation of Empathic Design is observation [19]. Watching people using
products and services in both their natural environment and context. Empathic design,

Page 5
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
contrary to gathering data in relative isolation, demands creative interactions throughout
an interdisciplinary team. People are so successful at adapting to their surroundings that
often we fail to notice when people’s behaviour and function is not optimised. Therefore
people themselves, let alone market researchers, are often unaware of their ‘real’ needs
Observing people using products has merit in highlighting sometimes obvious,
fundamental information but also for identifying opportunities to excite customers
through product design [1]. The Empathic Design literature [1 & 19] suggests several
types of cue that should be looked for whilst doing observational research. These cues
can provide opportunities for new product innovations.
Frustrations and confusions
Fears and anxieties
Wasted time
Doing things wrong
Misuse or unexpected usage
Dangerous situations during use
Customer sourced modifications of the product
Fringe customers or extreme users (e.g. disabled users).
Triggers of use – what circumstances prompt people to use a product or service?
Interactions with the user’s social and personal environment
Intangible attributes of the product (peripheral, intangible or emotional)
The crux of the problem lies in the fact that those who know how to innovate do not
come into direct contact with those who need something done. When designers can
explore the customers’ worlds through observation they can simultaneously understand
usage problems and needs, whilst carrying the knowledge of what is possible. The goal of
Empathic Design is to facilitate the design of user focused products by increasing the
degree to which the designers of these products empathise with the customer.
In the diagram below the current market research sourced information given to the
product development team leaves them with a very low level of customer understanding.
This results in only a small overlap between the customer’s usage behaviour and the
designer’s product design behaviour, certainly not large enough to ensure the design of a
product that delights customers.
The adoption of Empathic Design tools on an organisational scale can increase the
design team’s understanding of the customer, represented by an increased overlap in the
customer and designer’s behaviour. If the adoption of these techniques is thorough and
successful throughout the design team then the resulting deep understanding of the
customer should ensure the development of a delightful product.

Page 6
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
Diagram 2 – Increasing Designer Empathy
A Proposed Empathic Design Process
The following process is suggested by Lenoard and Rayport [19].
Step 1 – Observation
Who should be observed? These may be individuals or groups of individuals engaged in
product use.
Who should do the observing? Differences in education and natural inclinations
predispose different people to extract very different information when watching the same
situation. Many individuals are multi-skilled observers, although a team with members of
differing areas of expertise can produce a better quality of data. As the critical essence of
Empathic Design is articulating and responding to customer needs through technological
possibilities, an understanding of these possibilities is necessary within the team.
Step 2 – Capturing data
As Empathic Design inherently pursues observation over inquiry, interpreting peoples’
actions minimises verbatim. Much Empathic Design information is observed through
visual, auditory and sensory cues and so is captured using visual auditory and sensory
tools. Subtle, fleeting, unexpected and involuntary cues can often be missed or lost either
through interpretation or translation to the word or number.
Step 3 – Reflection and Analysis
The team reflects upon what they have observed and reviews their visual information
with a wider audience. These people can offer a different interpretation of the data. Any
issues that have not realised a response form the grounds for further observation. The
essence here is the identification of the users possible problems and needs.
Step 4 – Brainstorming for solutions
Empathic design uses brainstorming to transform observations into graphic, visual
representations of possible solutions. Though this process can be highly creative, it is not
undisciplined. The value of brainstorming is increased as the seeds of ideas are often
sown during this process.
Step 5 – Developing prototypes of possible solutions
The more radical the innovation, the more difficult it is to understand how it should
look, function and be used. As we interpret visual information so too can we stimulate
communication by creating some physical representation of a conceptual solution. These
representations are critical for three reasons. Firstly prototypes clarify the concept for the
development team. Secondly they enable the team to place its concept in front of other
individuals who work in functions not formally represented on the team. And finally,
they can stimulate reaction and foster discussion about the innovation because of their
apparent concreteness.

Page 7
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
Prototypes, simulations and role-plays can allow designers to experience not only usage
environments but also force them to channel their knowledge within constraints that they
would not normally experience.
Current Industry Use of Empathic Design and User-centred Design
Currently the automotive industry’s use of a user-oriented approach to product design is
limited. This is probably due to the size of the design teams responsible for the
development of cars. Enabling a team of hundreds of designers to empathise with
customers is likely to be significantly more challenging than ensuring small dedicated
consultancy design teams do so.
Toyota’s Lexus division has organisational structures in place to ensure the voice of the
customer is considered in the development of its products [15]. These structures include
dedicated departments and inter-section committees. However the customer information
that this system considers is gathered in fairly conventional ways, for example warranty
surveys, telephone questionnaires and dealer sourced information. This reliance on
negative data allows achievement of basic and linear qualities but provides little scope for
customer delight.
Ford have used some revolutionary approaches to gathering customer information. The
Ford Focus is so named because it is the product of customer focus groups where car
owners identify their car requirements. Ford also used some interesting techniques in
trying to understand fringe users by using sense deprivation suits designed to recreate the
senses of the elderly [20]. Here Ford aims to satisfy the elderly user and hopes that in so
doing the typical user will be delighted. The journalist Helen Mound comments that it
might have been more appropriate if Ford had considered using “Mum suits” that mimic
what it’s like to be a mother with screaming baby. However, these efforts do seem to be
fairly groundbreaking for the automotive industry, and would increase the designer’s
empathy with the customer.
Mazda employ a technique known as Kansei Engineering in the development of their
cars [21]. This technique involves building a database of the keywords that represent their
customers’ feelings towards their products. Factor analysis is used to identify which
product features correlate with these keywords and this information is used to develop
design rules that ensure the desired features are designed into Mazda cars.
Although pioneers of quality research [22], the automotive industry’s approach to
customer satisfaction in design typically follows the standard “do market research, hand
over customer requirements, do QFD” route with all the limitations previously discussed
(see Gustafson for an example of the use of QFD at Volvo [23]).
Daewoo, newly embarked in the automotive industry, claim to stand for customer focus
[24], however their focus is on the experience of owning a car. They consider ownership
as a service and seem less interested in a customer focus in the design of their products,
admitting themselves that their cars are nothing out of the ordinary [24].
Elsewhere the use of an Empathic Design approach to product development tends to be
concentrated in the computer industry or in specialist design consultancies.
Examples of these approaches in the computer industry include the use of customer
observation at home and work by Intuit in the design of accounting software [25].
Microsoft observed customers to identify the different types of software they used whilst
designing their own universally compatible software [26]. Cabletron included a paediatric
cardiologist on its research and development team when designing a computer network
responsible for the display of different formats of patient information around a hospital.
This enabled the design of a better solution by fully understanding how the software and

Page 8
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
network would be used, what information was needed, and when and where it was used.
[27]. Professor Kenneth Eason describes a framework for the user-centred design of
computer human interaction in the work place, considering the user as more important
than the technology when designing systems that have to be used by non-technically
minded people at work. The emphasis here is the design of systems that make work
easier, rather than highly sophisticated but baffling [27]. Digital Equipment Corp decided
to follow this idea and have taken up a user-centric approach, rather then their previous
techno-centric approach to whole system design [28]. Out of the variety of approaches
taken, the use of in-context observation of system users was recognised by Digital as the
most useful in the definition of early product directions and solutions [28].
In other industries this user centred approach is also taken. The stereo manufacturer
Bose used observation of its customers and users of its products to design speakers that
were easier to install [29]. Electrolux installed web cams in fridges both within their
offices and in the homes of real customers, observing fridge use in context when
designing improved products [30]. Elsewhere the user centred approach to product design
has been used in the design of military footwear [31].
The design consultancies interviewed during this research both use multi-disciplinary
teams to gather user information through organised programmes of observational
research before commencing product design [32]. These organisations emphasise not
only the importance of empathising with customers and users but also the importance of
using different communication mediums for the incorporation of this information into the
design process. Typically these firms use audio and visual presentation methods to
stimulate brainstorming and need identification in design workshops.
This research is taking an aggressive action research approach, learning whilst
supporting the development of real cars at EVM. Initial hypotheses have resulted in the
development of tools that will be deployed and refined as a result. Finally multiple
deployments of the tools will prove their usefulness and effectiveness. The knowledge
and tool development occurs in parallel through the following phases (see Diagram 3).
Plan & Build
Previous research [14 & 15] has suggested a series of data capture tools suitable for
eliciting positive information from customers. An extensive review of the existing market
research, design and psychology literature has added to this list of tools and aided the
building of these tools for the application in hand. A concurrent literature review will aid
in the planning of the required knowledge development.
The initial deployment of these data capture tools for the development of a real EVM
car has started and is described later.
Use & Learn
After the initial use of tools a process of evaluation and tool improvement will take
place. In addition the first deployment of the tools will enlighten the design of the data
integration methods that should be used in further deployments. It is planned to repeat the
sequence of tool development, deployment, and evaluation on at least a second EVM
product leading to EVM adopting the procedure into its everyday development process.
Running in parallel to the tool development cycle is a programme of supplementary
research designed to inform the development of both the EVM tool deployment and
deepen our understanding of Empathic Design and Delighter Design. This research takes

Page 9
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
the form of automotive industry interviews, cross industry interviews, an analysis of the
cultural implications for the tool design, focus groups, and an investigation of delight and
consumer behaviour
Measure & Prove
The development of a generic process for the capture of positive customer/user
information and its use in the product development process is the overall aim of CUPID.
The development of this generic tool will build on the experience and knowledge gained
through the EVM deployments. This stage of the project will include at least one non-
EVM deployment of the tool with aim of identifying the generic elements of the process.
Repeated deployments of the tools in different contexts, and the measurement of the
improvements they realise, will prove the effectiveness of the processes developed and
the validity of the knowledge gained.
Literature Review
Generic Process
Tool Development
Tool Deployment
Tool Evaluation
Consumer Delight
Non-EVM Tool
Cultural Analysis

Page 10
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
Diagram 3. The research methodology and project context.
Target benefits
EVM has set CUPID the target of a 60% reduction in the number of late design changes
required due to poor customer understanding in the development process. For a single
vehicle development this represents a saving running into many of millions of pounds.
The list of tools identified by the background research [14 & 15] was narrowed down
and initially tested on a real car development programme. A full organisation-wide
implementation of the data capture techniques was not possible and as such these early
stages of the research are purely exploratory.
The following section outlines some of the tools that have been deployed, giving details
of the processes, the analysis of the data collected and the conclusions for the EVM
product development process. In addition the advantages and disadvantages of each tool
will be discussed and the lessons learned will be highlighted.
Scenario of Use
The Scenario of Use is an imagineering tool that aids the understanding of the customer’s
product usage. EVM uses external market research information to identify the target
market for each of their products. This enables a target customer profile to be generated
including this persons typical car usage. Each Scenario of Use takes the form of a short
story describing one of these typical car uses with the target customer as the main
character. The stories are deliberately lacking in detail and are designed to take anyone
considering this target customer through their car use. These story lines are then used to
stimulate discussion or focus observational research.
An example of the generation of a Scenario of Use may be as follows. Market Research
identifies that the largest scope for developing the company’s market share lies in
capturing customers aged over 55 years and that the number of females in this age group
buying cars is increasing. The research then focuses on the car use of females aged over
55, and identifies an average length of journey, how often they use the car alone, what
sort of luggage they carry, how often they go to the supermarket etc. Story lines are then
developed that take account of as much of the target customer’s car usage as possible and
usually describe a car journey. It is important that these story lines remain flexible and
subject to refinement as the research progresses but essentially they form a framework on
which a rich understanding of the customer can be hung with the use of the tools
described below.
Customers can be presented with the scenario individually for comment, or in focus
groups to stimulate discussion. The story line detail can be filled in with observational
research and when used around Europe the Scenario of Use can help identify the cultural

Page 11
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
differences in car use. In future deployments storyboards as well as the written word will
be used to describe the Scenario of Use story lines.
Scenario of Use Workshop
Essentially a focus group discussion, the Scenario of Use Workshop uses one of the story
lines described above to take group members through one aspect of the target customer’s
car usage. The group can be made up of members of the public matching the customer
profile, or a mixture of customers and members of the product development team.
Three facilitators are required to run the workshop. The first is the Actor, and takes the
role of the story line’s main character, acting out the car usage of the target customer
using a mock-up vehicle and props. The second is the Director and is responsible for
using the Scenario of Use story line to direct the Actor through the role-play. The third is
the Data Collector and is responsible for collecting the information elicited through the
group members’ concurrent discussion of the role-play. All three facilitators are charged
with stimulating the discussion and prompting the group members when necessary.
Group members are asked when considering the role-play, to identify their “needs”,
“concerns”, and the “problems” they would experience in this situation, and how their
lives could be made easier. Any additions or corrections to the Actor’s behaviour that are
required for the role-play to accurately represent their car use are also requested. The
group members are asked to record their ideas in one of three categories; “Need”,
“Solution Idea” or “Addition to the Scenario”. The workshop is deliberately informal,
and the group is encouraged to come up with as many ideas and statements as possible,
however obscure.
As the role-play progresses it is the job of the Data Collector to capture each of the
group’s ideas in the language in which it was vocalised. The statements are written out
then posted on boards where the group can refer to them.
The workshop process takes the form of a dynamic, interactive discussion of car use,
and elicits real-time data in the form of customer needs.
Deployment Conclusions
Three Scenario of Use Workshops with differing group members have been conducted.
The first used a group made up of 20 British people representative of the target customer.
The second was made up of 3 target customers and 6 engineers and designers from the
EVM product development team. The final workshop was conducted in Italy with 7
target customers. The following findings were drawn from these three deployments.
The tool is extremely effective at identifying customer needs, including those previously
unrealised by the normal market research techniques used at EVM. The three workshops
outlined above have identified 211 customer needs relating to a single journey type.
When the group contains members of the product development team the dynamic
discussion between designers and customers not only increases the quality of the data
collected, but has the important effect of increasing the designer’s empathy with the
customer. Feedback questionnaires given out at the end of this mixed group workshop
contained comments such as, “Excellent, this has really changed the way I think about the
customer when I’m doing my work.”
The process is applicable in countries other than the U.K. but the use of an interpreter is
required. The data produced is of the same quality.
The tool is particularly useful in exploring customer needs and helps to identify all
problems however trivial. By creating an informal atmosphere and encouraging group

Page 12
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
members to talk through all their needs, the facilitators are able to gain access to
previously unarticulated information.
The workshop technique is highly flexible and has been successfully used with groups
of different sizes, nationalities and roles (engineer/customer). However there are several
deployment issues that still require consideration.
These deployments have shown that the group members sometimes require a certain
amount of prompting to fully articulate their needs. This prompting would be specific to
the facilitators running the workshop and is therefore fairly undesirable. Further
investigation will highlight what stimulus material best initiates the articulation of needs.
Future Scenario of Use Workshop research
To capture the voice of the European customer the Scenario of Use Workshop may have
to be conducted across all major European markets. This would be expensive but would it
be of benefit? Research is planned to discover the risks, costs and benefits of deploying
the tool across multiple countries and cultures? What is the effect of the nationality of the
process facilitators, data analysers, and group members? For example, should the process
be run and analysed by Italians to identify Italian needs, or should the data from around
Europe be collected and analysed by the same researchers. Does the Scenario of Use
story line need to be tailored to each culture, or are the inevitable inaccuracies in the story
line useful cues for eliciting culture specific usage information?
A programme of tool deployments, interviews and observational research is planned to
address these issues and the results should provide a guide indicating the best options for
applying the tools across countries and cultures.
The Murmur of the Customer
This technique involves listening to the comments customers make in reaction to
existing products or concepts placed in public places. The observation takes place
discretely without the customers’ knowledge and can provide insight into which areas of
product are important in product evaluation. An understanding of the static evaluation of
vehicles by customers is crucial if car purchasers are to be delighted in the showroom.
Customer needs can also be expressed and collected in this evaluation situation.
Hidden cameras are used to film the behaviour of people evaluating static cars. The use
of video footage offers several advantages. Firstly it provides a permanent record that can
be referred back to and re-analysed, or used as stimulus for discussion. The quality and
depth of the data captured is very high and the effort required to capture this data is
This tool aims to capture data on how customers can be delighted in cars, what this
reaction looks like, and in what areas of the car they concentrate when evaluating the car
as a product.
Limitations of the tool include the fact that the reactions observed are to an existing
product, and that the number of variables in the situation (eg. accompanied visitors or
not, serious purchase intent or not, age, sex, previous owners, etc) make a quantitative
analysis of the data difficult.
A miniature black and white camera and microphone were hidden in the dashboard of an
EVM show car at a motorshow. A video recorder mounted under the car recorded over
750 visits to the car. The resulting footage has undergone a qualitative analysis providing

Page 13
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
data on delighting features, evaluation behaviour, areas of attention, the importance of
different senses and the capture of visitor comments. The analysis reveals in which areas
of the car interior customers can be delighted, and highlighted sex and age differences in
evaluation behaviour and attribute priorities.
The benefits of this technique include the data format. The video footage is not only
analysed to produce a deep understanding of evaluation behaviour, but can be used to
stimulate discussion in workshops and to disseminate the data around the design team at
EVM. However the process of translating the information into the written word or a
numerical analysis dilutes the quality and richness of the data. In addition coding of the
data is both a skilled and time-consuming activity. Essentially this tool provides highly
useful insights in an immediately understandable format, but the amount of data captured
in this deployment was excessive.
Future plans for this process include the use of cameras to capture the evaluation of
concept ideas, and reactions to concept vehicles to identify which features should go into
production. This research also proposes recruiting volunteers to carry cameras in their car
to record their everyday usage to help in the identification of user needs in context.
Product In Use
This tool is the closest to the naturalistic observation of product users as proposed by the
Empathic Design approach. Car users are discretely observed using their vehicles in
context. Data is collected using video cameras and undergoes very little analysis before
being used by the product development team. This tool is being tested to identify the
limitations that are encountered due to the nature of the car as a product, and to clarify the
best ways of using this information with in a design process.
Video cameras have been used by teams of researchers to film real car users. The
situations recorded are in line with one of the scenario of use story lines, and involve the
loading and unloading of car boots. Car users were recorded in 5 car park locations, 2
supermarkets, 1 DIY store, 1 home furnishing store, and 1 airport. Two hours of
videotape have been produced containing 73 vehicle loadings.
Again quantitative analysis of the video footage is both difficult and unrewarding. The
full quality of the data is only available through the viewing of the edited footage. The
observational nature of this tool allows the identification of occurrences of the cues for
improvement highlighted by Hofmeister [1], including frustrations, user sourced product
modifications, customer needs and wasted time. The footage produced would ideally be
used in brainstorming sessions with the product design team or as stimulus material in
focus group discussions.
The main disadvantage of this tool is the limited scope afforded for its application by
the nature of the car as a product. Observing cars in motion, especially the observation of
the car’s driver when it is in motion proved extremely difficult and would require a
separate tool design. This could involve the use of volunteers carrying cameras in their
cars to identify their driving related needs and problems.
The following conclusions and managerial implications can be drawn from the research
conducted so far.

Page 14
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
Firstly the Kano model is applicable to vehicle features. Delight has been observed in
numerous customers in reaction to vehicle qualities that could not be considered Linear
or Basic. These delighting features included the simple presence of some features
answering customer needs in the static vehicle. However the model may require
refinement since delight has been observed in reaction to the exceptional delivery or
design of Basic features such as the gearstick. Likewise a negative reaction has been
observed in reaction to features that customers recognise as good ideas but have been
delivered badly. These findings suggest that, in contradiction to the Kano Model, the poor
execution of an otherwise delightful feature can cause customer dissatisfaction and
excelling in the design of Basic features can provide scope for delighting customers.
Considering features alone is therefore an oversimplification and the delivery of the
features deserves proper consideration when explaining delight in products.
Secondly the use of Empathic Design techniques in the development of cars has proved
an effective means of identifying both unarticulated customer needs and solutions that
have the possibility of delighting customers. The tools used have increased EVM’s
understanding of their target customer and the designers involved in the data collection
have reported an increase in their empathy with the customer. The customer needs
identified through this research, together with several solution ideas developed with
customers in workshops, are currently being incorporated into the development of a car to
be launched by EVM in the new millennium.
Furthermore the adoption of an action research approach has been validated. By
working hand in hand with a real vehicle manufacturer, the researchers learning and
understanding of the problem has been accelerated. The real world application of the
tools developed by the researchers has provided a rigorous test of their effectiveness.
The next stages of this research will investigate the initial hypotheses generated to date.
Some Empathic Design techniques will reliably deliver delighters in complex or mature
An Empathic Design approach is harder to adopt for the large design teams involved in
vehicle development, than for the small dedicated teams of design consultancies.
The Empathic Design tools should not be considered as independent processes. The
information they generate is linked and therefore their deployments should also be.
The use of raw customer information for check back at all stages of the development
process will aid the correct answering of customer needs in the manufactured product.
The capture of customer information in visual formats increases the ability of large
design teams to empathise with this customer.
This research will continue the deployment and evaluation of these and other Empathic
Design techniques both in EVM and another company. These implementations and other
companies’ experiences in Delighter Design will be analysed to refine, add to and
validate the initial findings.
1. Hofmeister, K.R., Walters, C. and Congos, J. (1996) “Discovering Customer Wows.”
ASQC’s 50
Annual Quality Congress, Chicago, USA, 13-15
May 1996.
2. Womack, J.P., Jones, D.T., and Roos, D. (1990), “The Machine that Changed the
World”. Rawson Associates, New York.
4. Karlsson, C. and Nellore, R. (1999) “Improved Development by Strategy
Specification Process.” International Journal of Vehicle Design, Vol.21 No 1.

Page 15
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
5. Clark, K.B., Chew, W.B. and Fujimoto, T. (1987) “Product Development in the
World Automotive Industry.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, No. 3.
6. Woods, T., (1998) “Giving People What they Want.” Marketing News, March 30
1998, Chicago.
7. Lutz, R.A., (1998) “The Customer Isn’t Always Right.” Brandweek, Oct 26
New York.
8. Percy, T., (1998) “On Listening to Customers.” Forbes, Executive Edge, Sep 1998,
New York.
9. Herstatt, C. and Von Hippel, E., (1992) “From Experience: Developing New Products
via the Lead User Method.” Journal of Product Innovation Management, Vol. 9, 213-
10. Thomas, M.J., (1997) “Consumer Market Research: Does it have validity? Some
Postmodern Thoughts.” Market Intelligence and Planning, Vol. 15, No. 2.
11. Douglas, S.P. and Craig, C.S., (1997) “The Changing Dynamic of Consumer
Behaviour: Implications for Cross-cultural Research.” International Journal of
Research Marketing, Vol. 14, 379-395.
12. Clausing, D., (1994) “Total Quality Development: A step by step guide to world class
concurrent engineering.” Chapter 4, ASME Press, New York.
13. Price, L.C., (1997) “Quality Function Deployment: An Alternative Customer Focused
Approach.” MSc Thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Manchester
Metropolitan University.
14. Boutland, E.J., (1997) “Buyer Focused Deployment: A Method of Integrating the
Voice of the Customer into the Design Process of an Automotive Manufacturer.”
MSc Thesis, The CIM Institute, Cranfield University.
15. Candeias, A., (1998) “State-of-the-Art in Integrating Customer Requirements into
Automotive Design.” MSc Thesis, The CIM Institute, Cranfield University.
16. J.D. Power & Associates, (1996) Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout
Study. J.D. Power and Associates, Agoura Hills, California.
17. New Car Owners Survey, (1998), GfK Great Britain Ltd, London.
18. Griffin, A., (1992) “Evaluating QFD’s Use in U.S. Firms as a Process for Developing
Products.” Journal of Product Innovation Management, Vol. 9, 171-187.
19. Leonard, D. and Rayport, F.F., (1997) “Spark Innovation Through Empathic Design.”
Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec 1997, p.102.
20. Helen Mound, (1999) “Try the Mum Suit Chaps: Girl Torque.” Daily Telegraph,
Motoring, March 20
21. Nagamachi, M., (1999) “Kansei Engineering and its Applications in Automotive
Design” SAE International Congress and Exposition, Detroit, Michigan, USA, 1st
March 1999.
22. Wirth Felman, M., (1999) “Auto Researchers’ Focus on Customers can Help Drive
Sales in other Industries.” Marketing News, Chicago, Jan 4
23. Gustafsson, A., Ekdahl, F. and Falk, K., (1998) “Implementing Satisfaction Into
Design: The Volvo Way.” Proceedings of the 31
ISATA Conference, Paper
24. Snowdon, R., (1996) “Driver Focus Puts Daewoo on the Right Road.” Marketing,
London, Jan 11
25. Lieber, R.B., (1997) “Stroytelling: A New Way to Get Close to your Customer.”
Fortune, Chicago, Feb 3
26. Anonymous, (1997) “Observing in Cyberspace.” Harvard Business Review, Boston,
Nov-Dec 1997.

Page 16
Published in the Proceedings of the 6
International Product Development Management Conference,
Churchill College Cambridge, UK, July 5
27. De Young, G., (1997) “Listen, then Design.” Industry Week, Cleveleand, Feb 17
28. Eason, K.D., (1992) “The Development of a User-Centred Design Process: A Case
Study in Multi-Disciplinary Research.” Inaugural Lecture, Loughborough University,
October 1992.
29. Hutchings, A.F. and Knox, S.T., (1995) “Creating Products Customers Demand.”
Association for Computing Machinery, Communications of the ACM, New York,
May 1995.
30. Electrolux Fridge-Cam at:
31. Rosenblad-Wallin, E.F.S., (1988) “The Design and Evaluation of Military Footwear
Based on the Concept of Healthy Feet and User Requirement Studies.” Ergonomics,
Vol.31, No.9.
32. Black, A., Brown, T. and Stegmann, T., (1997) “Flex, Connect and Communicate:
User Research in Concept Development.” Presence Forum, Royal College of Art,
London, Nov 7