Audio, Infotainment Brands Influence Auto Shopper Choice

Auto marketers are giving more and more ad space to their infotainment systems. Probably a smart decision, as consumers take it for granted that they will be able to connect in their cars as well as they do everywhere, and that the sound quality they get in their vehicle will be as good as they get at home. Their head units should serve up what they get on their headphones.

In Ipsos’ inaugural RDA 2016 U.S. Audio and Infotainment Brand Study, about one-third of new car buyers said the brand of audio system will have a significant impact on their purchase consideration for their next car. If the audio brand is a premium marque like Bose, Bang & Olufsen (B&O) or Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), the number of people who say audio will have a significant impact on their purchase consideration can get up to 50%.



For infotainment brands, the study finds that those that incorporate the vehicle brand name, like AcuraLink, and Mini Connected, have the highest percentage of owners who can correctly identify the brand. While fewer than half of consumers polled can identify their infotainment brand, more than half said they want a branded infotainment system in their vehicle. The study says systems designed and branded by Google or Apple had sway on purchase consideration for over 70% of new-vehicle shoppers.

The audio brands most known by car buyers are Bose, Sony, Pioneer and Panasonic, with 65% or more able to identify them. Mid-tier brands, of which 45% to 25% of consumers are aware, include Alpine, BeatsAudio, JBL, Fender and Harman/Kardon. The brands with the least awareness, known by 19% of consumers or less, include Bang & Olufsen, Lexicon, Krell, and Rockford Fosgate.

Frank Forkin, executive vice president at Ipsos RDA, said in a statement on the study that low awareness does not imply an audio brand is a placeholder. He says those that can boost consideration “are mostly ultra-premium brands that can add to the prestige of luxury vehicles.”

Across all audio brands, the study finds that familiarity is below 50%, even among the top-awareness brands. “What should be concerning for both auto and audio manufacturers is that only a dozen brands have greater than 10% familiarity as an automotive audio brand,” says the report.

The study makes the point that consideration doesn’t track with awareness. While Bose ranks highest for both impression and impact on auto consideration, the majority of the remaining brands rated high on impression but low on awareness. The study says many of the first- and second-tier awareness brands are at the bottom of the list when it comes to purchase decision impact.

The study also finds that consumers are willing to pay extra for a premium audio brand. Over 50% of new car buyers tend to upgrade to a premium audio system when selecting a vehicle and 65% believe it increases the resale value of their vehicle.

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