If you follow Tesla at all (or, lately, any mainstream news outlet), you’ve probably heard about Tesla’s much anticipated release of the Model X SUV. As with Tesla’s super-popular and extremely well-rated Model S, the Model X features Tesla’s industry-breaking design, electric motor, and a computer system that has created longing from companies like Apple.
A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article discussed the much-anticipated release of the Model X, but the article’s actual main point was about Tesla’s big bet with the Model X: Courting women drivers.
Currently, women buy just 40 percent of cars in the U.S. – yet when it comes to purchasing small SUVs and crossover vehicles, they account for 48 percent of the buyers.
And with the crossover/SUV design of the Model X, women are exactly who Tesla is banking on.
Tesla’s early strategy: Men
Tesla may not say it quite as directly, but looking at the sales numbers for their original models, men (and specifically, tech-savvy innovative adopters, with money) made up almost 90% of electric vehicle sales. The Model S has been extremely successful, and in many ways, the S saved the company – or at least kept Tesla in Elon Musk’s hands.
But with the Model X, Tesla decided to court more of the female target; they knew if they wanted to hit their sales goal of 500,000 vehicles by 2020, they’d need buy-in from women.
How Tesla used focus groups to design the Model X
Tesla knew that they needed to really understand what features women find appealing in crossover vehicles and SUVs, so to answer these questions, they conducted focus groups with moms and women of various ages. From the participants – who drove mainly minivans and SUVs – they learned that main selling points were safety, a third row, and the ability to get kids in and out of car seats.
Taking the women’s feedback into account, the Tesla engineers went to work, incorporating the feedback into the car design.
The Model X was introduced in limited release on September 29th, but pre-sales have already been swift – and women are lining up.
Tesla’s market strategy – talk to their customers
Tesla would have been remiss if they had planned on designing a SUV/crossover without getting input from over half of their target market: Women. As car buyers, women have different concerns when looking at a vehicle. Yes, a beautiful car is great, but women also need functionality out of their vehicles – particularly those women who are shuttling around children or even elderly parents. Tesla, wisely, invested in market research – focus groups – and had in-depth conversations and ideation sessions with women to truly learn the main features that would attract a woman to the still-new category of electric vehicles.
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