The pandemic has increased the importance of the personal vehicle and in-dash infotainment today versus pre-Covid, according to results from a national Caravan survey conducted by Engine Insights. The survey, conducted on behalf of DTS, a global leader in next-generation audio, imaging and sensing technology, also reveals that radio is indispensable/highly important to seven out of ten vehicle owners.
“This new survey reveals key trends driven by the pandemic, including the rise in the importance of both the personal vehicle and in-dash infotainment, as well as a change in the kind of content listened to in-vehicle,” says Eric Corliss, manager of Engine Insights.
“We were particularly struck by some of the demographic data: for example, that Millennials value radio in the dashboard so highly, with 78 percent saying it is indispensable and that households with children are most likely to find their vehicle more important today (and to view it as a place of refuge). Also, that these demos, along with Gen Z, are the most likely to place greater importance on dashboard entertainment/information today, versus pre-Covid.”
Personal Vehicle Grows in Importance – Place of Refuge
According to the survey, close to half (47%) of all vehicle owners feel their personal vehicle is more important than ever to them today versus pre-Covid, with only 6 percent saying their vehicle is less important as they no longer commute. Those who say their vehicle is more important now are equally likely to cite as reasons: a discomfort with public transportation or ride-sharing, and a perception of their vehicle as a place of refuge during these challenging times – and these numbers are even higher for those with children in the household.
Radio Indispensable, Pandemic Influences Content
Nine out of ten vehicle owners say it is important to have radio in their dashboard, with over half wanting it as the anchor of their media diet. Other key findings include that dashboard entertainment/information has become more important in the pandemic because of the ability to listen to music as an anxiety reliever, given all the bad news and stress in the world (especially true for Gen Z) and the ability to access local news/pandemic bulletins. More than half say the kind of content they listen to in their vehicle has changed versus pre-pandemic.
“It comes as no surprise that the majority of car owners say radio is indispensable to the vehicle dashboard. At Xperi, we are true believers in the power of free broadcast radio,” says Jeff Jury, general manager of connected car, Xperi. “Given how highly Millennials value today’s radio, its relevance to the vehicle dashboard is confirmed for decades to come. This study also reinforces that car owners are looking for a dashboard that offers infotainment content that is personalised, discoverable, and textually and visually-rich.”
Four in five vehicle owners say it is important for their in-vehicle dashboard entertainment to be personalised to their particular tastes and interests and this is increasingly relevant to young consumers, Gen Z (91%) and Millennials (89%). Top reasons for the importance of personalisation include not having to fiddle with controls while driving, too much content clutter and being used to having relevant content pushed to them on other digital platforms.
Cost-free, Discoverable, and Continuous
The survey also weighs in on the importance of free content, without the worry of upgrades and connection. Four in five vehicle owners say no-cost listening choices are important and relate to the sentiment that, with so much great broadcast radio and free, discoverable content available, it makes no sense to pay.
Being able to continue listening to a radio station digitally when the vehicle has gone out of broadcast range is also important. And, compared to their older counterparts, Millennials and Gen Z place greater importance than older demographics on having content relevant to what they listen to “discovered” for them, and having rich visual/textual information about the artist and song they are listening to.
Key highlights from the survey
- 47% of all vehicle owners surveyed feel their personal vehicle is more important than ever to them today versus pre-COVID.
- 62% with children in the household report their vehicle is more important than ever, versus just 39% of those with no children. Over one-third feel their vehicle offers a place of refuge during these challenging times.
- 91% of vehicle owners surveyed believe it is important to have radio in their dashboard, with 72% saying it is indispensable or very important.
- 78% of Millennials say radio in the dashboard is indispensable versus 69 percent of their generational counterparts.
- 64% of Gen Z/61% of Millennials/65% with children place greater importance on dashboard entertainment/information today versus pre-COVID.
- 80% of all respondents say it is important for their in-vehicle dashboard entertainment to be personalized to their particular tastes and interests.
- Gen Z (91%) and Millennials (89%) rate personalization as important compared to Gen X (81%) and Baby Boomers (70%).
- Features most important to in-vehicle dashboard entertainment experience are free content (30%), not having to worry about upgrades/connection (28%), and being able to continue listening to a radio station digitally when the vehicle has gone out of broadcast range (25%).
- Gen Z (69%) and Millennials (68%) are by far the most likely of all generations to listen to different content in their vehicle than before COVID, and twice as likely as Baby Boomers (33%) to do so.
- Four in five vehicle owners (79%) feel it is very important that listening choices in their vehicle are free (radio/podcasts/etc.) versus subscription based.
- 60% agree that radio is great when they run out of things to listen to in their media library; 58% find the clutter of content choices too difficult to sift through, so they mainly listen to their pre-programmed radio stations.
- Over half of vehicle owners (52%) like having radio as the anchor for their media diet.