Curb appeal – that first and lasting impression – is key to selling a house. Ford designers realize a car also has curb appeal.
Malcolm Gladwell's best-seller "Blink" showed the power of snap judgments in decision-making. In 2005, as designers
set out to rethink the 2010 Ford Taurus
, they engaged more than 1,000 consumers to provide input during various stages of the design. They found that people form lasting opinions – the kinds of opinions that lead to a purchase – in the first moments they see a vehicle.
Some call it the "5x5x5" concept
-In the first five seconds, people notice a vehicle's lines, stance and roofline and look for those to convey a sense of motion and dynamism.
-In the next five seconds, they form an impression of the paint, the shape of the head- and taillamps, the height of the wheels and how they all fit together.
-In the last time segment, from five seconds to five minutes or more, consumers notice the details – from the shape of the door handles to the smooth touch of the coating to all the interior features – and form impressions about quality and craftsmanship.
A case in point: The Taurus' predecessor, the Ford Five Hundred, was judged by automotive critics as a solid, capable vehicle. Its shortcoming was a lack of head-snapping curb appeal. While Five Hundred owners generally loved the car, convincing consumers to give it a try proved challenging. So as a first step to re-inventing the Five Hundred as the 2010 Ford Taurus, the company conducted research deep into those first impressions – curb appeal.
Researchers listened, talked and even sketched with potential customers to find out what they notice, what matters and what influences their purchase decisions. The result is a car that melds art and science, blending design intuition and customer research to create a full-size sedan that grabs customers at first sight.