We are living in an unprecedented time right now and the disruption is driving new and unique behaviors. It raises many questions moving forward. What kinds of unique needs and behaviors are we going to see from consumers? What will they desire and how do we begin to understand how to bring value and take advantage of opportunities to create new experiences that are usable, useful and desirable?
Looking at the future of mobility, the pandemic and how it is changing consumer behavior will impact all areas from in-vehicle experiences and connected experiences to public transportation, mobility as a service, and autonomous vehicles. How will the COVID-19 experience change brand perceptions and consumer decision making including the importance of being trusted, safe and clean?
Car As Sanctuary
This continually shifting new normal comes with new anxieties and concerns. A central change that we are seeing is that mobility and wellness are on an accelerated convergence with each other. With the impact of COVID-19, consumers are redefining what wellness and safety mean and they are going to seek designs, products and services that will help safeguard them from germs, viruses, pollutants and more.
It’s going to be important for us to understand which new consumer behaviors and desires are going to be short-lived as a reaction to the pandemic and which are going to be more systemic needs moving forward. There will be brand equity in making commitments to creating a future that is safer, cleaner and can be trusted.
Post COVID-19 Mobility Experiences
We have leveraged our depth of research into the drivers of clean, safe and trusted experiences to create a Post COVID-19 Mobility Experiences model that serves as a framework to understand consumers’ emotional needs in this new world and connect them to opportunities to create the new clean, contactless and crowd-less experiences.
The central emotion at work in our model is the idea of control. We find ourselves fighting against and protecting ourselves against an invisible enemy. We don’t know where it is. We don’t know who has it. The result is feeling a lack of control and it is changing how we interact with each other and the world.
Clean Is The New Safe
To a large degree, being clean is the new definition of safe. Consumers are seeking to regain control and safety so they can feel confident that they are healthy and as a result relax and diminish stress in their environment. As we move to the outer layers of the model, we being to explore how can build trust in the systems we design whether they are in-vehicle, autonomous or public transportation related.
We can encourage people to engage with mobility experiences by helping them
- detect potential wellness and safety threats,
- prevent those threats or problems from happening, and
- ultimately protect consumers from them in their everyday interactions.
3 Key Factors To Build Trust
Three supporting factors that will help consumers feel in control and to regain trust rest in providing experiences that are Clean, Contactless and Crowd-less.
The idea of being clean and communicating it is complicated. Consumers can’t see or know if the air is safe. How can vehicles prevent and remove impurities from the air and then signal to passengers that it is clean and safe to enter. Similarly when we think about materials, antiviral materials can be used to keep surfaces automatically clean. The challenge is how to let consumers know these materials are in place and provide the sensory signals that will let consumers know they are effective.
Another challenge is managing transitions. We can’t think of cleanliness as a static concept. It moves and changes through the course of the mobility journey and we have to begin to understand how to design systems to support that for individual vehicles and in shared mobility environments. It’s going to be very important to communicate the signals of clean in all situations.
People are actively minimizing contact and physical interaction to protect themselves and maintain control. A contactless experience is perceived as a cleaner experience. In many ways, we can think about vehicles as a piece of PPE. We’re going to see more in the way of autonomous delivery services, drive thru services being optimized, and concierge services for retail brands. These contactless and contact-minimizing transactions will be mainstays in the post COVID-19 experience, and we need to design to support them.
We also need to be thinking about and designing contactless solutions for public transportation and other mobility services. There are opportunities to signal that transitions and experiences are clean and deliver them in a contactless way. Minimizing high touch contact points will reduce consumer anxiety and help feel confident to return shared transportation.
Social-distancing is now our new normal and we’re trying to figure out ways to come together while being apart. Looking ahead, we see that vehicles will not only continue to serve as sanctuaries but also facilitate new experiences that allow us to avoid crowded group situations.
We may be having more mobile dining experiences, attending drive-in events from our vehicles, using our cars as waiting rooms for appointments. Vehicle interior designs will evolve to accommodate and enhance these new experiences and other contactless interactions.
On-demand transportation, mini-mobility and micro-transit services are going to provide ways to help people move in smaller groups where there will be more confidence that the experience is clean and they are safe.
Creating clean, safe environments that facilitate contactless and crowd-less interactions will be an expectation from future mobility experiences in the wake of COVID-19 with long-lasting impact.