U.S. automakers and suppliers need to innovate and differentiate to capture new business and build brand equity, according to a study from Nielsen.
Selecting and integrating the right advanced technologies — ones that drive business performance, product differentiation and customer loyalty — is essential, according to the report.
Nielsen annually conducts AutoTECHCAST, a syndicated study of consumer demand for advanced features and technology. This study measures 44 different automotive technologies among 13 technology categories and also includes a deep dive into consumer views on the connected car.
The study focused on advanced and emerging automotive technologies, examining the latest industry trends and uncovering the reasons behind them. The survey was conducted during the second quarter of 2016 and included nearly 12,000 U.S. new car buyers and looked at 44 auto-related technologies.
Consumers are increasingly excited about vehicle technologies, but a lack of familiarity with connected vehicles and lingering privacy concerns remain as obstacles.
“Consumers are becoming more interested in advanced automotive technologies than ever before and are increasingly factoring these technologies into their purchasing decisions,” says Mike VanNieuwkuyk, vice president, Nielsen Automotive, in a release. “Manufacturers need to continue to educate auto shoppers about the technologies that appeal to their personal interests and desires in order to distinguish their products from competitive options and build stronger brand loyalty with these tech savvy consumers.”
While advanced automotive technologies are on the rise, consumer awareness of many automotive technologies is not as widespread as some might think. Nielsen found that base familiarity is low with just 25% being extremely or very familiar with these technologies.
However, familiarity with technology related to safety has been on the rise. The top five most recognizable advanced technologies are rear camera mirrors, smartphone-linked media functionality, blind spot detection and prevention systems, surround view camera systems, and smartphone-navigation vehicle interfaces.
Technologies involving comfort and fuel efficiency were shown to be the least familiar to survey respondents. The report revealed the bottom five technologies were gesture/motion controls, energy recovery suspensions, active wheel shutters, active front grille shutters, and car-mounted solar panels.
Beyond automotive technologies that are related to safety and connectivity, consumers are far less familiar with other futuristic advancements. A lack of awareness around many of these technologies may be hampering their wider acceptance, raising the need to better educate consumers.
When it comes to future vehicle selection, safety - particularly accident prevention technologies - is growing in consumer interest. The report found that safety is among the top criteria for consumers when shopping for a new vehicle and has risen 5% since 2014. Advanced technology/features is also on the rise, up 3% over last year. Half of the top 10 individual technologies of interest are safety-related.
While vehicle price and reliability remain important factors with consumers, they are also viewed as characteristics that are expected. The report showed an increase in the importance of corporate reputation, which rose to 10% in 2016 from 8% last year.
“Consumers are becoming much more interested in the reputation of the company they purchase their vehicle from,” VanNieuwkuyk said. “More than half of the respondents we spoke to indicated that car manufacturers are making good choices when it comes to safety, which really bodes well for industry reputations in general.”