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Making Smart Marketing Insight the Engine of Tomorrow's Car Technologies

by Ralph Blessing , 24.08.2012

Many of today’s consumers – with extended commutes and a penchant for multitasking – see the car as a “second home.”

And, just as in the home, the pace of car tech change has accelerated dramatically. Satellite radio is giving way to Internet connections and Pandora; back-up cameras and voice-activated controls are almost standard equipment.

I travel a lot and always try to rent a car with some new electronics feature. It is pretty amazing how quickly things have advanced, yet how complicated some things get. In one car, it took 5 steps just to get to my favorite radio station – but the blind spot system did help prevent a potential accident.

As the car tech explosion continues, “smart” cars that drive themselves and provide round-the-clock contact with friends and family will be just around the corner. The possibilities are almost endless …

But do drivers want all of the innovations that car makers and their suppliers can provide? When does enough car technology become too much – perhaps to the point of dangerous distraction?

These issues are front and center in the auto industry, and there are many more questions than answers. Although we at GfK study car intenders and buyers continuously, more targeted research on this topic is needed.

For example, how do drivers segment in their interests and tech tolerance? Rather than handing buyers a standard list of options, can we suggest custom packages based on their characteristics – age, profession, time of commute, and budget? The rate of uptake with this simplified, “smart” sales approach could jump dramatically.

To provide answers, GfK is partnering with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) to understand what consumers will want inside their vehicles over the next 5 years. Our plan with the Emerging Automotive Technologies study is to enable auto and technology manufacturers, content providers and others engaged in this space to innovate wisely and meet the needs of consumers.

Our robust study will synthesize data derived from:

* in-depth Consumer Research (including a consumer/expert co-creation panel)

* expert interviews across categories, including automotive, aeronautics, military, and consumer electronics

* Global Scan of Technology Trend -- an analysis that identifies opportunities at the “tipping point” for emerging/future innovation

* FutureScape™ Quantitative Segmentation (FutureScape™ quantitative segmentation shapes, sizes and prioritizes “Platform” spaces; segmentation focused on need-states and projects potential barriers and opportunities)

As a car lover as well as practitioner of innovation strategy and creation , I am fascinated to learn the answers to some of these questions. Just as smartphones and tablets have changed media, their underlying technologies are remaking the driving experience. Making this process systematic and insightful – responsive to consumer priorities – can only extend the success of tomorrow’s smart cars.

To learn how to subscribe to the The Emerging Automotive Technologies study, contact Ralph at ralph.blessing@gfk.com.