One of the leading caravan manufacturers in Europe, Adria Mobil, is one of those companies who are well aware of the necessity of making systemic, cyclic innovation efforts. With the ever-changing landscape of user expectations and the challenges presented by climate change, the leadership has already established a system of continually tracking new trends. However, with the onset of the pandemic, the values and priorities of people started shifting unexpectedly, which also significantly marked the caravanning industry that suddenly gained a new popularity.
Adria Mobil's main mission when they approached us with an idea for a design research in 2021, was to get to know this group of newcomers. As a leading caravanning brand, it was key for them to be quick to discover who these new users were, what they valued most and what their expectations in terms of vacationing were. Our strong belief was that even though not all of the newcomers would remain loyal to caravanning after the pandemic restrictions, the ones who will would differ distinctively from the long-term caravanners.
Our support of Adria Mobil was thus to envision a research targeting this new group of users – and we took on our task in the summer of 2021, after the second COVID-19 wave, when the new vacationing styles really started to become more prominent. The research was aimed at newcomers as well as non-users who were drawn to caravanning but still undecided. With the help of a mobile ethnography tool, we led a remote online study that resulted in 7 GB of collected data in form of videos and photos, brought 170 insights from three different markets – France, Italy and Germany.
Parallel to that we did an overview of trends in related industries – outdoor, mobility, travel and tourism. These desktop research findings helped us further confirm some of the needs and expectations expressed by our newcomer/non-user interviewees; for example that non-caravanners have high initial standards of comfort and are often used to hotel vacations. They have a hunger for freedom and exploration as well as expressing great concern about the environmental issues.
Adria Mobil had already been intending to research sustainability potentials in caravanning, but by uncovering the newcomers’ motivations it became clear that environmental concerns should be given priority. Another design research was carried out in October 2021 for which we focused on sustainability in caravanning of existing AM users on four different markets – Germany, France, Sweden and the UK. 28 online interviews with varied group of users led to 514 insights, distilled to 25 innovation directions.
But what the outcomes of these two user researchers represented for Adria Mobil went beyond the usual innovation efforts. In the very specific context of the rising pandemic and growing number of caravanning enthusiasts, the company was supported with ample information serving as a way to prepare for the future changes in time. The following 2-3 years will show if the caravanning vacation style will maintain its popularity. In the meantime, with design research support, Adria Mobil can develop the right approach to increase the loyalty of newcomers and maintain its position of a leader in the caravanning segment.