Road Trip

road trip
Ahhh…Summer: The time for vacations and road trips. I’ve enjoyed a few road trips this summer including a impromptu drive from Wichita to Denver just last weekend when our return flight to Denver was canceled.

Perhaps that’s why I was fascinated by Kelley Styring’s research on Americans and their cars. Kelley packed her family in a Honda Pilot and spent 30 days road tripping across the US. From her blog: “My family and I (spouse and two kids) will drive more than 5,000 miles around the U.S. in 30 days, interviewing car owners and cataloguing every single item found inside their vehicles.”

Her research reveals the American car as a habitat—just like our homes and offices. We live in our cars and we’ve adapted to that environment as best we can. But oftentimes we find ourselves without products made for use in this unique environment. We do everything in our cars, like: eating, drinking, calling, texting and mapquest-ing.

The point is, where do we put all the stuff we use in the car?
Styring reveals cup holders store much more than cups: phones, sunglasses, iPods, spare change, and pens to name a few. And we eat in the car—often and messily. And without garbage cans. Thus, our car becomes a mobile dumpster, full of trash.

The biggest eye-opener for me was that most of this isn’t new. We’ve been eating in our cars for decades without any major manufacturer changes to car interiors. I guess we have cup holders but those were a new feature 30 years ago.

Sure, some of these things are covered by the after-market products. I googled “car trash can” and found an array of ill-fitting and ugly alternatives to throwing my trash in the door pocket.

It makes me wonder: where else are consumers “making do” or compromising? And what are we doing to ease usability for our clients? How are client expectations changing?

How can we turn a problem into opportunity for innovation? If we consider our end-user’s needs but we don’t get the message out, how will they discover our new, ease-of-use features? Is there a communication break that could be solved through your marketing message?

Tell me about it.
Do you have an example of a compromise and a solution? Call or email me with your comments and I’ll post them in my next email and on my website.

imago visual For information on Imago Visual’s award-winning print, video, web design and photography services, visit or call 303.246.5358.

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