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Volvo's Idea Generation Using Women Employees
Auto industry studies show that women buy about two-thirds of all vehicles and also influence about 85 percent of all sales. However, many auto manufacturers get ideas on new-car features by doing marketing research on gear-head guys who love cars.
That’s exactly opposite to what Volvo did recently in trying to bridge the gender gap. Volvo first obtained ideas on new-car features from all-female focus groups drawn from its Swedish workforce. It then named a five-woman team of Volvo managers to design a “concept car”—what the auto industry uses to test new designs, technical innovations, and consumer reactions.
Shown in the photos below with its all-women design team.
Here are some features of Volvo’s YCC (Your Concept Car) that appeared in auto shows in 2004:
Automatically opening doors. Press a button on the car key and the gull-wing doors pop open, the chassis rises a few inches, and the steering pulls in to make a wide path in for the driver.
Ergovision system for automatic fit to the driver. At a dealership the driver’s body is laser-scanned so that the car automatically sets the optimal positions for the seat belt, pedals, headrest, steering wheel, and seat—information saved in memory in the car key.
Parallel parking aid. When the car stops in front of an empty spot, sensors confirm the space is big enough and the system automatically self-steers the car into the space while the driver controls the brake and gas.
Care and cleanliness. The no-stick paint on body panels repels dirt and customized seat covers can be removed and washed.
You may never see the YCC in your local Volvo showroom because its likely $65,000 price tag may be too high for the market. But you will see many of these women-designed features on future Volvos.
Companies can learn from this example.
Employees may be encouraged to suggest new-product ideas through suggestion boxes or contests. Testimony to the importance of listening to employees in developing new products.
The idea for Nature Valley Granola Bars from General Mills also came when one of its marketing managers observed co-workers bringing granola to work in plastic bags.
Cite this as:
YouSigma. (2008). "Volvo's Idea Generation Using Women Employees." From http://www.yousigma.com.
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