US Insights

Here's why connected cars are missing the mark with buyers

Paul Crispell

U.S. Connected Car Lead

Mobile 01.09.2018 / 09:00


Tech features are underutilized and sometimes entirely unknown.

Car manufacturers are in a race to offer consumers new technologies that will keep them connected while on the go. However, the latest research from Kantar TNS reveals that those features are being underutilized and in some case buyers don’t even know they exist.

According to a study of the attitudes and purchase behaviors of more than 8,500 consumers across Europe, North America and China, 25% of car owners are not actively using their connected car’s features, and 11% don’t even know if their vehicle has them.

The findings make clear that auto brands are struggling to convince owners of ‘connected’ benefits despite having invested vast amounts of capital to embed new technologies and services into their vehicles. In fact, more than half (60%) of drivers who accessed these services at the time of car purchase either don’t plan to, or are unsure whether they will renew them in the future.

We are seeing car manufacturers competing for market share by differentiating their offer with ever-more sophisticated technologies and services. But we’re not yet seeing this translate into embedded and habitual usage among car owners. We found a clear disconnect between what manufacturers are producing and what the car owners are looking for.

Unconnected connectivity

For many owners, new tech offerings are still seen as an optional extra and not an intrinsic part of the vehicle. This highlights a perception gap given the role that technology and connectivity can play in the vehicle’s performance, safety and the driving experience.

Car Purchase Considerations

The study also finds that 52% of respondents would pay for driver-related services such as navigation features – a figure which falls drastically to 26% for entertainment features where buyers often prefer to use well-known apps on smartphones.

Globally, premium brand owners are proving to be early adopters of connected features, with a higher proportion of premium owners willing to pay for connected features when compared with mainstream brand vehicle owners. For example, 52% of all car owners said they’d be willing to pay for navigation features. Among premium car owners that number rises to 72%.

The trust equation

Auto brands are in a strong position when it comes to perceptions of safety and security, as they enjoy significantly more trust than other tech companies – 40% of consumers trust car brands with their data compared with 10% for companies such as Google and Facebook. Aside from security and privacy, demonstrating how technology can improve driver and passenger safety will also appeal to consumers – with 43% of the users of connected features globally saying it is an attractive feature.

Car Brand Trust

Show the benefit

There’s a strong appetite for connected vehicle purchases, with over half of consumers planning a connected vehicle as their next car purchase. Some 64% of those potential buyers will look to their car dealers for guidance on emerging technologies.

In the minds of many car owners, connectivity is complex. Rather than following the ‘build it and they will buy’ model, auto brands have an opportunity to grow their market share by simplifying their features, aligning them with the core customer wish list and by communicating the benefits more effectively within their existing marketing channels. In mature markets such as the U.S., it’s clear that for now, dealer networks still have a big role to play here as trusted players in the path to purchase.

Source: Kantar TNS

Editor's Notes

This information is based on research carried out by Kantar TNS between July 6 and August 27 2017. The research covers the attitude towards CASE topics (Connectivity, Autonomous Driving, Shared Mobility and Electrification).

8,576 individuals were interviewed who had bought a new or nearly new car that was first registered in 2013 or after. Respondents are smartphone users and (partly) involved in the buying process of the car involved. No car make was excluded, resulting in representing 67 different car makes in the study.

This Connected Car study is allied to Connected Life 2017, a global Kantar TNS study, answering the question: How can companies build and maintain trust in the rapidly-changing connected, post-truth world?

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