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DEEPER WATERS

As we mature and assume responsibilities—particularly raising children—our relationship with cars changes profoundly. The sense of pure freedom and independence driving once aroused is compromised by the constraints and responsibilities of marriage, maturity, and, especially, parenthood. Our research showed that driving becomes associated with deference to others, as opposed to pure selfindulgence: driving to work, hauling the kids around, and coping with traffic. And yet, we also saw that beneath the surface lies our middleaged yearning for the essential meaning of the car—and for the youthful, freer Explorer within us. Our research revealed that simple design elements, such as a sunroof, a CD player, the color red, or sporty off-road characteristics, take on a disproportionate degree of importance to the harried soccer mom who still needs to feel like she hasn’t lost her self, even though she has four kids in the car. And successfully taking a tough turn on wet pavement (or watching professionals do it at breakneck speeds) provides a heroic thrill that is hard to come by these days. These deep insights were used by our client to help spur the phenomenal growth of sport utility vehicles in the industry—vehicles whose off-road characteristics are hardly necessary in our cities and suburbs, but do preserve an important part of our inner lives. Of course, cars have other meanings that can be used to differentiate brands: status, luxury, rebellion, and sophistication, for example. But each of these meanings must be understood within the larger context of the essential meaning of the category and, ideally, should be fused with it. In this category, the spirit of the Hero and the Explorer is the tailwind that can provide an unexpected source of energy and velocity in the marketplace. The carcooning phenomenon, moreover, suggests that there is a strong alternative essence for cars. The historical antecedent of the category essence of the car is most likely the Explorer’s trusty steed— like the Lone Ranger’s Silver. But for a sizeable, yet smaller, number of people, the alternative predecessor to the car’s essence is more likely the enclosed, safe, communal carriage. While the latter identity carries less punch than the primary category essence, it still offers a strong point of differentiation and an opportunity for improving product design. How can the minivan, for example, better facilitate

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

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