min read

What can Leading Edge Consumers (LECs) tell us about the car of the future?

by Frank Haertl , 28.07.2015

According to our Connected Car study, the car of the future is almost here. The arrival of connected vehicles will usher in a new era in automotive history and features that could not have been imagined a short while ago will soon come as standard with most new car models. But how widely do the new features on offer appeal to drivers? Our survey of 5,800 consumers in Brazil, Russia, China, Germany, the UK and US provides clues to their attitudes towards seven new connected car concepts. The results give much needed insight into how connected cars are likely to be received by the mass market and Leading Edge Consumers (LECs) – a highly influential group who often lead the way in the adoption of new technologies.

15% of respondents in our global study are defined as LECs. As is often the case with LECs, this group of early adopters and influential consumers is dominated by young males. 64% of LECs in our survey were male and 61% were classified as young. Although just a small sub-set, this group is well and truly in the driving seat when it comes to shaping the car of the future. Automotive manufacturers need to take time to understand the needs and motivations of this important group because LECs are, without a doubt, significantly more likely than other respondents to welcome new connected car concepts. They over-index on all seven concepts tested and are keen to embrace the possibilities afforded by new technologies. But instead of just being ahead of the curve and more likely to welcome new concepts, LECs have a different set of priorities when it comes to new features.

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“Ultra Safe” and “Data Tracker” – features that enhance safety and enable drivers to track consumption, run diagnostics and access accident data – are rated most highly by both LECs and non-LECs. However, whereas general consumers perceive “Life Manager” – a feature that enables a car to communicate with other connected devices – as being least appealing at 62%, LECs clearly can appreciate the benefits offered at 84%. Similarly, while a car that understands their entertainment preferences appeals to 68% of general consumers, it appeals to 90% of LECs.

How can transport in five years’ time look like?

When we asked consumers about what transport methods they expect to be using daily in five years’ time, LECs were far more likely to be sharing cars than non-LECs. Half of LECs expect that they will be car-pooling compared to less than a third (32%) of non-LECs. Car clubs (pay-as-you-go) are likely to be almost twice as popular amongst LECs than non-LECs (47% compared to 24% respectively). The willingness of this highly receptive audience to drive cars other than their own offers manufacturers the opportunity to use car club models to showcase new functionality and drive demand.

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In line with data from LECs and as adoption increases, we anticipate there will be greater demand for a range of “lifestyle” benefits as consumers start to understand the many possibilities the connected car brings. While entertainment and lifestyle management related components are, as yet, only achieving strong appeal amongst this smaller, highly technology literate sub-set, we believe it is only a matter of time before these functionalities go mainstream.

Background Leading Edge Consumer

See our infographic about the Leading Edge Consumers and how they are driving the connected car market. Leading Edge Consumers are the consumers who are most likely to shape the future – those are early buyers, who are passionate about the auto-tech industry, and/or they influence others.

Frank Haertl is Global Lead Automotive for GfK.

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