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Advertising & Marketing

Gen Y Drivers Are Much More Likely to Embrace Connected Car Features

Although Generation Y has yet to make a major impact on the new car market, GfK believes that this age group’s interest in all things “tech” is going to be critical for the future of the connected car industry.

GfK recently conducted a study in six key countries – US, UK, Germany, Brazil, Russia, and China – looking at which features of connected cars (such as entertainment, safety, and behavioral tracking) appeal most to certain age groups.

GfK will present highlights of the study today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, from 2:15 to 3:15PM in room N258-260 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The session, titled “Creating a Seamless Life through Connected Cars,” will be led by Frank Härtl (Global Lead, Automotive, GfK) and Kevin Taylor (Senior Vice President, Technology, GfK).

Across Germany, UK and US, the GfK study showed that 46 percent of drivers aged up to 34 (Gen Y) find the idea of a fully integrated in-car entertainment system very or extremely appealing. This is more than double the percentage (20%) for drivers ages 45 and over.

The picture is even more positive in the developing car markets of Brazil, Russia, and China, with in-car entertainment appealing strongly to over half (55 percent) of those aged up to 34, compared to just a third (33 percent) of those aged 45 and over.

Why should car manufacturers and in-car tech companies focus on GenY?

The upper band of Gen Y drivers – those aged 25 to 34 – are heavier drivers than other age groups. In the developed markets surveyed, they spend an average of 5 hours a week driving, compared to 4.6 hours for those aged 45 and over; and in the developing markets, the figures are 6.1 hours versus 5.6 hours.

Gen Y drivers also aspire to certain driving experiences that connected cars can readily tap. In Germany, UK, and US, drivers aged up to 34 are more likely to want to feel “proud” (20%, compared to 10% of those aged 45 and over) and “excited” (13%, compared to 7% of the older group) while driving. These aspirations are also seen in Brazil, Russia, and China, but more evenly across the age groups: 24 percent of both age groups want to feel “proud” while driving; and 18 percent of drivers aged up to 34 and 17 percent for those aged 45 and over want to feel “excited.”

Finally, three quarters (75%) of Gen Y drivers in the developed markets surveyed – and 79 percent in the developing markets – believe that they are likely to be using their own, personal car in five years’ time.

Härtl comments, “These factors combine to make Gen Y drivers an attractive audience for connected cars – especially as they grow closer to the age at which people tend to become new car buyers. What the industry needs to do is find ways to let Gen Y drivers experience connected cars now – and that means outside of the direct purchase cycle – so that they discover that cars deliver the emotions of excitement and pride in a car that they aspire to.”

Gen Y may get this crucial experience with connected cars through alternative business models, such as pay-as-you-go car rental or hire services (e.g., Zipcar), which GfK’s study shows are particularly interesting to Gen Y drivers. Across Germany, UK, and US, roughly one-third (34 percent) of drivers up to 34 years old say they are likely to, or definitely would, consider using a pay-as-you-go service instead of owning a car. This contrasts to just 19 percent of those aged 35 and over. And the appetite is even higher among younger drivers in Brazil (40%), Russia (44%), and China (64%).

“By including connected cars in the growing car sharing services,” said Hartl, “the industry can give younger drivers an opportunity to discover this technology and fall in love with the experience it delivers. Current car sharing services require an interaction with technology (website booking, apps for locating/unlocking vehicles) that Gen Y consumers already enjoy – so adding connected car technology to this experience will be a natural progression for them. And with this ‘foot in the door’, the industry then has an engaged audience that should drive future demand.”

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