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Surprise! Connected Car Users are Old and Rich!


Nielsen recently released a study that was not representative of the entire population.

I know, so what else is new, right?

Actually, this was their intention this time.

It was a study of 5,985 respondents 18+ years old who either use or are extremely, very, or somewhat interested in at least one of the three connected life technologies—connected home, car and/or wearable technology.

It is, in other words, the low-hanging fruit of the connected car market.

The Connected Car Audience

And who is this low-hanging fruit?

The study found the majority are men (58%), 42% are age 55+ and 62% have at least a college degree and 37% made more than $100,000 per year [that’s almost double the national average]. 37% of connected car users say they spend 30 minutes to an hour in their cars on a regular basis.

Wait, is this radio’s audience?

Given that most are men and 42% are over the age of 55, it’s fair to ask whether this is even a market radio is designed to serve, isn’t it? The biggest chunk of radio buys, after all, are aimed at 25-54 Women.

Perhaps these demographics should come as no surprise given that connected car offerings are making their biggest splash on high end vehicles like these from Volvo:

(Note in this video how “all the apps you love” do not include the FM and AM ones you grew up listening to. Also notice that this typical American family appears to summer at their secluded seaside estate beside a lighthouse shrouded in hot air balloons).

Naturally, this is the cream in the coffee, but since when do trends filter down-demo?

Is this, in other words, a problem needing to be solved for an older audience who wants a car-based solution – like the audience that pays for SiriusXM? Why are younger audiences – the people most eager to adopt technology – slower to warm up to the connected car? Is it because the gadget in their pocket covers all the bases and is never more than a cord away? Or is it because the connected car solutions are still too frumpy and grumpy and quirky?

Purchase Intention 

Of those folks in this group who are likely to purchase a car within the next two years, 39% are very likely to purchase a connected car with built-in features.

Does that sound rather low to you, considering the built-in propensity of these folks to be tech-savvy?

It does to me.

Put another way, most of the folks interested in a “connected life” are not likely to go out of their way to purchase a connected car.

Then again, why should they when the expensive gadget in their pocket is already connected. It becomes a value trade-off: Am I getting enough extra value from the connected car to justify the added expense? Or should I continue to simply cable my iPhone to the dash at no additional charge?

Why the Connected Car?

But what about those who want to take the dive? What’s the attraction?

In most cases, it comes down to having what’s cool: 60% of future auto intenders say they’d like a connected car because they want to experience emerging technologies, 58% feel it will provide entertainment to passengers while on the road, and 43% say it will boost their productivity while they’re on the road.

60% want it because it will be cool – the latest and greatest technology.

So for them it’s not about access to their local radio stations, which are hardly reflecting the latest technology. In fact, they are evidently either assuming the presence of their favorite radio stations or they don’t care one way or another.

Indeed radio will have to compete on a dimension other than “cool.” What if what’s on it is actually unique, compelling, and must-hear?

Streaming Audio

And what fraction of connected car users stream audio “every time” or “regularly” while in their cars?

72%, according to the survey.

Three out of four connected car users stream audio in their cars “every time” they’re in it or “regularly.”

So What Have We Learned?

Today’s connected car users are especially older, affluent men. That sounds a lot like the SiriusXM audience.

They are attracted to the “cool factor” of emerging technology. They’re not listening because the content is necessarily so unique and compelling.

They are very likely to be streaming audio via their connected cars, suggesting that radio brands which stream have an advantage over those that don’t.

And they will be tough to please: Despite their interest in connected technologies a majority says they will not go out of their way to purchase connected cars – automakers and the content providers who deal with them must demonstrate the value proposition in a compelling manner. Just like all other marketers everywhere.

And what about younger consumers, women, the less affluent, the more thrifty?

Do I have a radio station for you!

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