Johnson Controls conducts consumer study in SUV segment / Spotlight on the driver

Burscheid, Germany (ots) - Product solutions for the automotive interior must

not only fulfill automakers' requirements, but must also dovetail with

consumers' needs and desires. That's why Johnson Controls, one of the world's

leading suppliers of automotive interior systems, regularly conducts consumer

research in which drivers are given the opportunity to evaluate vehicle

interiors. The Consumer Research Department recently invited about 100 test

persons to participate in just such a Car Interior Clinic at an independent test

studio in Monheim, Germany. The study featured three models in the SUV (Sport

Utility Vehicle) segment: the BMW X5, VW Touareg and Volvo XC90.

Just a month ago, the company carried out a similar consumer study of

vehicles in the lower-midsize segment, in cooperation with the independent

market research institute, GfK (Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung), based in

Nuremberg. This time, the weeklong Car Interior Clinic will spotlight the SUV


Car Interior Clinic as consumer research tool

At a Car Interior Clinic, half of the respondents quantitatively evaluate the

interiors of the vehicles on display in Monheim. They do this with the aid of a

detailed questionnaire and rating system. The respondents in the second group

are interviewed on the pros and cons of each vehicle interior by a trained

psychologist applying the methods of depth psychology. This procedure forms the

qualitative component of the Car Interior Clinic. During such clinics the

respondents do not test drive the vehicles. "The car's body and handling while

driving are not decisive aspects for us. We are much more interested in the

driver's perception of the car's interior", says Silke Jagla, Consumer Research

Manager at Johnson Controls. The interviewers ask the respondents for their

overall impression of the vehicle interior, but also pose specific questions

about individual components, for example whether seat adjustment is user-

friendly or the cockpit controls are within easy reach.

Strict criteria for choice of interview partners

The market research institute recruits respondents either per telephone or

direct approach - at a supermarket parking lot for example. Interview partners

are chosen for the study based on strict criteria: The person must own and drive

a model belonging to the segment under examination and must have purchased the

car new no more than four years ago. "The respondent should be the person who

made the decision to buy the car", explains Silke Jagla. People who work in the

automotive industry, in marketing or in the media are disqualified from

participating in the interviews, as their responses could skew the results.

Consumer research from day one

For Johnson Controls, it is crucial that consumer research accompany the

entire product development cycle. Directly following the market observation that

ushers in every new concept, the consumer research department steps in to

actively sound out the wishes and visions of consumers in the relevant target

groups. This enables Johnson Controls to carefully tailor its products to the

exact needs and desires of the consumer. The company's designers, engineers and

marketing specialists use the results of the Car Interior Clinic in both product

development and marketing. "With the help of market research, we are able to

identify current opinions and trends within specific segments of the automobile

market at an early stage, reflect these in the products we develop, and thus

offer automakers valuable support in their decision-making process", says Silke


Johnson Controls, Inc. is a global market leader in automotive systems and

facility management and control. In the automotive market, it is a leading

supplier of seating and interior systems and batteries. For non-residential

facilities, Johnson Controls provides building control components and systems

and facility management services. Johnson Controls (New York Stock Exchange:

JCI), founded in 1885, has its headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The

European headquarters is in Burscheid, Germany. Its sales for 2002 totaled 20.1

billion US-Dollars, the Automotive Systems Group alone accounting for 15 billion

US-Dollars of this figure. In the current "Industry Week" business magazine

rankings, Johnson Controls has been listed as one of the top 100 best run

companies in the world for the fifth time in succession.