Currently reading: Seat to increase the use of customer input in the design of its cars
The styling of new special-edition models, like the Mii by Cosmopolitan, will be influenced more heavily by prospective buyers

Seat wants to increase the influence prospective buyers have in the design of its new models, as it believes more customer research leads to an increase in new ideas.

Speaking at the launch of the new Seat Mii by Cosmopolitan (pictured), a special-edition model designed in conjunction with the leading fashion publication, Seat’s head of global marketing, Susanne Franz, said the method was good for fulfilling less obvious customer needs.

“The most social thing you can do is invite people in and let them be a part of the decision-making process,” she said. “The market is so fragmented now that research is becoming more and more important.”

Franz said the final design of the Mii by Cosmopolitan was chosen by 30 women, all of whom had been invited via Cosmopolitan magazine. She said those people helped to decide what look, feel and finish the model was given, and the results made for a better-targeted car.

Mii by cosmopolitan 06

Seat’s director of design, Alejandro Mesonero, added that this method of research is particularly important for designing cars that target women buyers.

“Cars are about men - the basic design of a car is male dominated,” he said. “A car that’s design specifically for a woman doesn’t exist, but it’s true we can give cars a little twist to make them more feminine.”

Both Mesonero and Franz admitted that because of the vast differences in taste, no one car can appeal to all women or all men. But they agreed that intelligently targeting specific groups was an effective tool in drawing in new customers.

“Buyers of the Mii by Cosmopolitan will mostly be new to Seat,” continued Franz. “The way people buy cars now is different, the journey they take from desire to purchase has changed. So we’re changing the way we reach these customers.”

Franz said the Mii by Cosmopolitan’s launch, which took place at a London fashion show, was an example of this. She believed that the traditional route of launching a car at a motoring show was a declining trend.

Back to top

“Our new Lakeside store is in a shopping centre, and we plan to publicise our cars in new places like pop-up shops and music events,” added Franz. “It’s all about creating desire through the things people do today.”

Mii by cosmopolitan 08

Seat and Cosmopolitan’s partnership is just one example of targeted marketing. A previous special edition Mii, the Mii by Mango, was another case, and it proved to be highly successful, with overall sales exceeding Seat’s expectations by 50%.

Franz hinted that more partnerships would be on the way and make use of extra buyer research and modernised marketing tools. However, Mesonero said this technique wasn’t appropriate for all models, such as the new Seat Ateca.

“The new Ateca is a more mainstream model, so it’s not right to specifically design that car for one type of person,” he said. “I can’t imagine it going to larger cars to be honest, people tend to want them in more conventional forms.”

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Twizzle695 16 September 2016

Design ....

There has to be a better word than 'design' for this sort of activity .... I don't think the 'design' of the vehicle has changed if you paint it a different colour and add matching seat covers ... it's a paint and trim job ... a makeover. The English language is so rich yet we still insist on using one word for clearly disparate activities such as engineering a vehicle and deciding on a colour palate!
BigZoot 16 September 2016

I think

I think the car designs are just fine, other manufacturers should do this instead (Honda!)
LP in Brighton 16 September 2016

It's SEAT, not Seat!

SEAT is Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo, a car manufacturer - a seat is something you sit on. It would be wrong to have Bmw, Ds, Vw, Mg (though maybe not Tvr, an abbreviation for Trevor), so why do we have Seat? Sorry if I'm being pedantic, but I expect Autocar to get it right.
Now what was the story about? Oh yes, "We have no idea how to design cars, so we're going to ask customers to help". Really I'm not sure if this helps. All the best designs come from someone with a vision. I doubt whether Issigonis got help from customers with the original Mini - and I suspect that Colin Chapman would have avoided contact with customers at all costs!