How do people really feel about a car’s design?

How neuro research helped Toyota measure people’s feelings and emotions in reaction to different car models

By Toyota and Haystack, a market research agency.


Testing the way customers react to cars design

Together with research agency Haystack, Toyota conducted a methodological study to find out whether it was possible to close the gap between development teams and customer feedback at the beginning of the product development process. They wanted gain a better understanding of the way in which customers experience a car’s interior and exterior features by measuring their biometric reactions.


Quantitaive and qualitative research with neuroscience

The research was done in two phase, the first phase was conducted in Poland with 40 participants - respondents were exposed to computer-generated images of three car models already on the Polish market. In the second phase, conducted in Belgium with 8 respondents, the researchers measured the impact of materials in a real car setting. Haystack deployed a number of neuro-research tools such as eye-tracking, electroencephalogram and Galavanic Skins Response to measure the reaction to differente stimuli. In both stages, a number of statistical methods were used in order to control for other factors and stimuli.

So what?

Neuroscience as an added value for car production

The results of the biometric measurements were extracted in the form of a motion spectrum, which allowed the researchers to detect, millisecond by millisecond, what people were looking at and what reactions were triggered in the brain.

The study highlighted a number of broad truths in regards to how car design emotionally impacts consumers. Specific exterior and interior car features can evoke negative or positive reactions, without 
affecting the overall liking of the car, but overall evaluation is not the only metric matters. Eeach individual element has to be emotionally engaging for long-term success, even small details or ornaments can evoke strong emotional reactions. On the basis of these methodology tests, Toyota added neuro-research as a tool in its official manual for product and concept tests. There was a consensus that this method can help optimise the car development process, resulting in producing better cars all in the end.