12
Dec

Autonomy, Delayed: Four Reasons Why Millennials May Not Be Ready For Self-Driving Cars

An Autonomous Future Series: For automobile manufacturers, suppliers, and technology companies, a bold new future has arrived. Technology that adds autonomous features to the driving experience are now available on vehicles by all major manufacturers – inching us ever closer to the day where the driver is a passive, rather than active, participant in the driving experience. To take a closer look at what’s to come, automotive research experts from Market Strategies-Morpace will share their insights in an occasional blog series titled “An Autonomous Future.” In this blog, Dania Rich-Spencer and Stephan Schroeder, Automotive Vice Presidents at Market Strategies-Morpace, share insights about why a consumer panel of millennials do not trust self-driving vehicles and, therefore, would not step foot inside one.

By: Dania Rich-Spencer & Stephan Schroeder – Vice Presidents, Automotive Growth & Innovation

 

To say that autonomous vehicle technology is top of mind for auto manufacturers is a slight understatement.

Across the globe, carmakers are doubling and tripling down on features that will take the power of the driving experience out of the often-unpredictable hands of the car owner, and into the relative algorithmic safety of computer-driven vehicular tech. According to a Brookings Institute study, manufacturers spent more than $80 billion on engineering AV technologies for their cars in 2017. In fact, a majority of this year’s models have incorporated one or more autonomous features — things like lane departure warnings, automated braking, and radar-enabled cruise control.

Framed against this reality, it would be easy to expect that a hands-off future is all but assured. In fact, at the recent ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle USA Conference, engineers spent two days talking about continued refinements that will assure the public’s safety. During one session, in fact, engineers discussed with pride spending considerable resources to understand how many times a pedestrian looks before entering a crosswalk.

So it was surprising — indeed, shocking — to observe these same engineers shift in their seats during a consumer panel discussion facilitated by Suzanne Miller of Morpace on Day 2. During the discussion, five millennials — without hesitating — answered “No” to the most fundamental of questions: “Would you step foot inside an autonomous vehicle?

Though the response was for some a harsh reminder of the consumer challenges that still have to be solved, the question of trust is not a new one — in fact, a poll released earlier this year by the American Automobile Association found that 73 percent of those surveyed are “too afraid” to enter a self-driving car. This is up 10 percentage points from the year prior, and underscores the biggest hurdle facing AV and ADAS tech — one that cannot simply be funded or engineered away.

As we listened to the panelists — varying in background, gender, nationality, and age — we were able to pinpoint:

The four most pervasive reasons why
there is skepticism and fear of self-driving vehicles

Trust and Safety

Topping the list is the overall belief that humans remain best suited to command the driving experience. They readily cite the isolated instances of accidents involving self-driving cars among the top reasons. In other transportation experiences where much of the process is automated – flying aboard a modern commercial jetliner, for instance – there always is a human who will reassuredly step in, they say, if something goes wrong.

The amount of engineering that underlies the self-driving experience, in itself, should be reassuring to the public. In fact, one audience member, in a fit of frustration, asked rhetorically why these people would “rather trust an Uber driver than a well-engineered AV?” Interestingly, panelists cited the number of high ratings and successfully completed journeys on an Uber driver’s profile as affirmation that they know what they’re doing. Something that is not readily available for autonomous vehicles today but may be required to convince consumers of its safety in the future.

It was compelling to hear this from a group that has developed a “learned trust” – a sort of symbiotic relationship – with existing driving tech. This is a public that would not commute beyond their neighborhood without some form of a moving map (trusting its computer-intoned directions implicitly as they are uttered from the dash or smartphone).  But it’s a group that has also learned how flawed technology can be – how imperfect it is at times. They have coped with taking their new $1,000 iPhone out of the box, only to find it doesn’t work. They deal with daily, inexplicable disruptions of their WiFi service. Because of these experiences, they have learned what the limits are to technology. As a result, they have developed a skepticism – and in some cases even fear – that only seems to grow with every new announcement about self-driving vehicles. This underscores the growing need to build consumer trust with the new technology as autonomous vehicles are continually developed.

 

Privacy

Millennials have had a love-hate relationship with the technology that guides their lives. On the one hand, dramatic improvements in tech have given this group more powerful tools and connectedness than ever; on the other, the personal information input into these devices and sites has been under assault. The specter that AV technology will further abridge someone’s privacy appears to be a deal breaker for those who would rather cruise in relative anonymity.

 

Hackers and Bad Actors

All the engineering in the world, said these panelists, cannot correct for the mental deficiencies of those who wish to illegally subvert the technology, or use it for harm. Fears include hacking of cars to disable features, or to use them for nefarious purposes; or some unstable driver inside an AV who uses it to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting public.

 

Liability

Panelists expressed grave concerns about who would ultimately be held responsible for accidents involving AV tech. If I was not steering the car when it hit that pedestrian, why should I be held responsible for the damage inflicted? Sorting out the chain of liability – whether the mobility provider should offer some sort of supplemental insurance for its self-driving technology, or whether the public, through the act of purchasing or renting the car, should remain the liable party – was a clear precondition of their risk/reward decision about this new technology.

 

Given what we learned from a group of smart, articulate millennials, AV manufacturers will need to deliberately guide consumers down the path to a world of autonomous vehicles – on consumers’ terms. Challenges associated with this include: 1) understanding exactly what these terms are, and 2) responding in an empathic manner to meet consumers’ expectations. Conquering these challenges may well represent the Holy Grail between reticence and broad adoption.

At Market StrategiesMorpace, we are working with vehicle manufacturers and technology companies to better understand the human factors that will ultimately lead to a future of new, safe, and widely accepted modes of transportation. If we can be of service, please contact us.

Dania Rich-Spencer & Stephan Schroeder – Vice Presidents, Automotive Growth & Innovation

 

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7
Nov

An Autonomous Future – Electric Vehicle Driver Opinion on Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous connected electric vehicles


For automobile manufacturers, a bold new future has arrived. Technology that adds autonomous features to the driving experience are now available on vehicles by all major manufacturers – inching us ever closer to the day where the driver is a passive, rather than active, participant in the driving experience. To take a closer look at what’s to come, automotive research experts from Market Strategies-Morpace will share their insights in an occasional blog series titled “An Autonomous Future.” In this blog, Stephan Schroeder, Vice President of Automotive Business Development at Market Strategies-Morpace, shares insights about how electric and hybrid vehicle drivers view the advantages and disadvantages of autonomous vehicles.

By: Stephan Schroeder, Vice President of Business Development, Automotive

The prospect of autonomous driving and connected mobility has energized the automotive industry and spurred billions of dollars of investments in autonomy, connectivity, and electrification. While startups and blue-chip corporations alike are convinced about the potential of autonomous vehicles (AV), consumers are more incredulous.

As previously reported in our An Autonomous Future series (Consumer Awareness & Opinion and The Role of the Consumer), media coverage has and will play a critical role in creating driver and rider awareness for AVs, but it is also becoming clear that the transition to this new form of mobility will require a multifaceted approach and unprecedented levels of investment in order to earn their trust.

One group that appears to be further along in their favorable opinion towards autonomous driving are drivers of electric vehicles. In a recent Morpace MyDrivingPower* online survey conducted among over 100 electric vehicle drivers, 3 out of 4 respondents expressed a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” opinion about AVs, more than twice the rate reported by drivers of vehicles with traditional powertrains. Given that difference in favorable opinions and their unique vantage point as early adopters, we took a closer look at the pros and cons of autonomous driving from their perspective.

 

Electric Vehicle Drivers’ Worry Revolves Around AV Tech-Related Challenges

Maybe not surprisingly, the biggest concern has to do with the technology itself. Concerns range from the quality of programming and the risk of being hacked to the inability of drivers to “program” the cars correctly.

And herein lies maybe the biggest challenge for AVs. We all have, over decades, become used to the limits of technology and the fact that it is not fail safe. However, we have accepted this risk because either our lives don’t depend on it (i.e. cell phones, computers, etc.) or because we have experts standing by to jump in if necessary (i.e. pilots, doctors, etc.). When a simple system reboot does not suffice or experts are not physically available, we dial help lines and call upon customer support to aid in our problems.

However, when it comes to AVs: what would happen in the event of an emergency or failure? The thought of being stranded with your family by the roadside and having to navigate through a helpdesk menu or wait hours for a call back is not something that would be acceptable in an autonomous world. Overcoming the doubts about the reliability of the technology and providing a highly responsive, end-user support system will be the two biggest hurdles that mobility providers will have to overcome to gain broad acceptance among consumers.

The next largest challenge has to do with concerns regarding vehicle performance due to bad weather conditions. Additional performance-related comments had to do with poor road conditions or construction. Of course, there is also the question of performance in more demanding environments, such as off-roading, which interestingly enough leads to a related disadvantage mentioned in another category: the thought of having to give up driving and losing the joy of driving a car. Many drivers are not happy about the thought of losing their freedom to drive or the ability to drive themselves.

While less frequent, concerns about liability and data privacy are also weighing heavy on the minds of consumers. Both of these issues tie back to our experience with technology. Who will be responsible in the event of an accident? What damages will be covered and not covered? Who will be responsible for the condition of the vehicle, especially if it is being shared amongst multiple parties? Ironically, some respondents felt that there would actually be more accidents because they did not trust their fellow drivers to behave responsibly or manage the technology properly.

The fear of lack of data privacy points to another significant concern with AVs. Considering the amount of time we spend in our cars and the amount of interaction that will take place through text, voice, video, sensing, etc., AVs will take the question of data privacy to a whole new level. Morpace is planning to explore this and other issues related to the question of trust and autonomous mobility further in one of its upcoming studies.

 

Electric Vehicle Drivers’ Opinion of AV Advantages

When asked about the expected advantages of AVs, electric vehicle drivers have a wide range of expectations, from safety to cost and environmental issues.

Most notably, electric vehicle drivers expect fewer accidents due to a reduction in distractions or unsafe driving. Furthermore, they expect lower cost of insurance, which could be a function of less accidents but also a lower rate of car ownership.

While many also expect less traffic and lower emissions, the verdict for a majority of people is still out, which shows the uncertainty around certain benefits:

  • Will AV lead to less or more cars on the road?
  • Which powertrain technology will prevail?
  • What will be the mix of autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles?

While many people believe that there will be efficiencies due to the use of autonomous vehicles (i.e. faster commutes), it could be offset by higher traffic volumes or the expectation that “the slowest car will dictate speed on the road.”

Finally, electric vehicle drivers pointed out two more major advantages. First, they noted that AVs will provide options for people who either can’t drive due to age, health, income or legal reasons – or who simply don’t want to drive. Secondly, many consumers mentioned that they expect a reduction in stress and greater happiness, which will contribute to a better quality of life and increased productiveness. The luxury of permanently “being taxied by your own car,” as one responded put it, seems to be a very appealing benefit for many drivers.

As a result, when asked how likely they would consider riding in an AV, 72% of electric vehicle drivers said that they would be “very likely “or “somewhat likely” to do so.

 

Time Spent While Driving in AV

For those with the most positive opinion of AVs, what else do they think and feel? When asked what they would do during the drive, the majority of drivers said they would use it to socialize with others, inside or outside of the vehicle, or simply make good use of the time otherwise. That said, many of the comments also revealed the anxiety that electric vehicle drivers feel when it comes to technology. Their comments ranged from “nervously watch the traffic/road,” to “carefully monitor the technology” and “pay full attention to driving and be completely ready to take over controls.”  In other words, while many drivers dream of a more enjoyable and fun ride, they simply can’t imagine a vehicle performing 100% of their activities 100% of the time with 0% failure yet.

 

AV Price Points for Electric Vehicle Driver

So, given all of the pros and cons, how much more would electric vehicle drivers be willing to spend for a vehicle that has autonomous technology?

On average, electric vehicle drivers indicated that they would be willing to pay an additional $6,000, with answers ranging from $1000 at the low end to $10,000 at the upper end.

The bottom-line is that the automotive industry has the attention of electric vehicle drivers and they are willing to pay for the added value. That said, the expectations are high and there is a healthy level of skepticism about the ability of making the technology work. The promise of a better quality of life is a huge opportunity for everyone involved but it will most likely come in baby steps as we learn to feel our way around the new world of unlimited mobility for everyone.

For more information about our AV research or if you have questions, please contact me and visit morpace.com.

 

*MyDrivingPower is an Insight Community comprised of over 500 electric and hybrid vehicle owners across the U.S., which is managed by the automotive market research professionals at Morpace. Results are based on responses from BEV and PHEV vehicles owners only.

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23
Aug

An Autonomous Future: How the Role of the Consumer Will Impact AV Development

An Autonomous Future: How the Role of the Consumer Will Impact AV Development

For automobile manufacturers, a bold new future has arrived. Technology that adds autonomous features to the driving experience are now available on vehicles by all major manufacturers – inching us ever closer to the day where the driver is a passive, rather than active, participant in the driving experience. To take a closer look at what’s to come, automotive research experts from Market Strategies-Morpace will share their insights in an occasional blog series titled “An Autonomous Future.” In this blog, Chris Leiman, Senior Vice President of Automotive at Market Strategies-Morpace, talks about how consumers are influencing the adoption of these autonomous features.

By: Chris Leiman, Senior Vice President, Automotive

 

When most consumers envision an autonomous vehicle (AV), they think of Tesla Autopilot or a Waymo self-driving car powered by Google. They often do not realize that their brand-new car, truck, or SUV already includes added safety features that already make the automobile more autonomous in nature.

Take the Toyota Highlander, for example. This popular sport utility vehicle is equipped with helpful lane departure warnings, along with a feature that pulls drivers back into their current lane with the power of radar. As soon as the driver begins to traverse against lines on the road, the vehicle ensures he or she tracks back safely.

While these features serve as a subtle introduction to the benefits of AV technology, it’s hard for consumers to escape news of incidents involving self-driving vehicles. From grisly reports of accidents with General Motors’ AVs last fall, to the frightening media headlines warning of robotic systems that decide who dies in a crash, AV developers must constantly walk a thin tightrope.

While pushing the technology forward will allow more people and businesses to benefit from it, factors like societal fears and negative media coverage will also continue to shape the outcome and pace of the industry.

As an automotive researcher at Market StrategiesMorpace, my role is centered on the continuous quest to understand consumers and the decisions they make. It’s one of the primary reasons why I have the opportunity to attend the Autonomous Vehicle Conference, an informative and annual event including speakers from all parts of the AV ecosystem.

Through my work at the company and my insights from this conference, I’ve learned much about the potential impact – and role – the consumer will play in the future of self-driving cars. Here are a few of the main and immediate factors influencing the automotive vehicle industry:


Top Consumer Factors Influencing Autonomous Vehicle Development


Media Coverage of the AV Market

Media Coverage of the AV Market Autonomous vehicle technology bears a variety of safety and mobility benefits, including quick transport and automatic driver assistance features. However, consumer acceptance is still a significant barrier to overcome. This is primarily influenced by the media, which focuses on AV accidents and death without detailing the daily triumphs in the industry.

News programming giants have a saying: “If it bleeds, it leads.” While reporting on a pedestrian being killed by a self-driving car, they leave out comparative data, such as the fact that more than 6,000 walkers and bikers were killed by human drivers in 2017. As fatalities rise, autonomous safety features could help reduce these rates.

This is a primary example of how the AV industry must do a better job managing its own narrative. A combined effort by all members of the AV ecosystem will likely be required to change the tone and provide perspective.


Driver/Rider Exposure to ADAS Features

Driver/Rider Exposure to ADAS Features with AVIn addition to better management of news coverage, exposure to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) features is a critical stepping stone to further consumer acceptance. These include characteristics that are already commonplace in many newer vehicle models, including adaptive cruise control (ACC), adaptive light control, automatic parking, and blind spot monitors. The proliferation of these features, combined with proper messaging and education, will go a long way in developing consumer trust.

One strategy is to gradually expose passengers to the features. Consider the example given by a Lyft representative who spoke at the Autonomous Vehicle Conference. She explained how a self-driving BMW transporting 2018 Consumer Electronics Show attendees included a Lyft employee and a safety driver. Since these two human beings were also in the car, people felt safer. However, the vehicle still completely drove itself.

This speaks to a gradual adoption approach. Once consumers get more exposure to the technology, it will reduce and, presumably, eliminate their anxiety. By safely riding with Lyft employees through multiple rides, for example, the technology will become as familiar as riding in a taxi or regular ride sharing vehicle.

Early technology adopters such as Tesla Autopilot drivers, as well as those eager to try out self-driving cars, will help the industry to convince skeptics over time. Eventually, experts say, benefits like time and convenience will continue to develop within the technology, making them more apparent to the average consumer.


Consumer-Centered Business Models

Consumer-Centered Business Models with AVWe are already witnessing the emergence of various business models in the auto industry. How drivers and riders accept these models will also affect the future development and dispersal of the technology. While companies like Tesla continue to push the self-owned AV, enterprises like Uber and Lyft currently operate with the help of freelance drivers, who are responsible for their own cars.

To become and remain profitable, they will need to develop a viable autonomous vehicle strategy, which could affect their freelance driving program. In addition, the new technology may or may not be acceptable to the consumer. It is possible that the widespread adoption of these brands in their current form will help pave the way for consumers’ autonomous mobility options in the future.

In addition to the ride sharing model, fleets are another option. From ambulances and school buses to programs comparable to Lyft and Uber, maintaining a group of company-owned cars would save money while providing consumers with a seamless experience.

Finally, startups and blue-chip businesses alike will need to focus on the quality of customer experience. From vehicle choices to entertainment options, the enjoyment of the autonomous ride will become nearly as important to the future of the industry as safety benefits.


Ushering Consumers into the AV Revolution

Ushering Consumers into the AV Revolution I’m proud to work for a company like Market Strategies-Morpace that helps AV enterprises use research to support their value proposition. In short, we’ve found that acclimating consumers to self-driving technology while changing the prevailing mindset around AV depends on the in-vehicle experience, how often and how safely they use those cars, and their willingness to pay for the features and services, whether it is their own car or via a pay-per-ride service. Marketing will play a key role for all brands. AV organizations will need to clearly communicate safety benefits and value to their customers to charge for services in the end.

In considering the consumer’s impact on acceptability, I’m reminded of a recent Car and Driver article by illustrious author Malcolm Gladwell. In the piece, he writes about the phenomenon of consumer control. In our society, our ability to choose our vehicle and drive it where we want is a part of the American fabric.

Whether it’s a man who won’t part with his 1968 Corvette or a young mother who doesn’t trust her children to an autonomous vehicle, giving up control of the driving experience will take some time. By staying diligent with market research, gaining better control of the media narrative, and clearly explaining the lifestyle and safety benefits of self-driving cars, the consumer will become more comfortable with – and enthusiastic about – what AVs can do for their lives.

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16
Aug

An Autonomous Future: Consumer Awareness & Opinion about the Emergence of AV

An Autonomous Future: Consumer Awareness & Opinion about the Emergence of AV

For automobile manufacturers, a bold new future has arrived. Technology that adds autonomous features to the driving experience are now available on vehicles by all major manufacturers – inching us ever closer to the day where the driver is a passive, rather than active, participant in the driving experience. To take a closer look at what’s to come, automotive research experts at Market Strategies-Morpace will share their insights in an occasional blog series titled “An Autonomous Future.” In this first blog, we hear from Dania Rich-Spencer, Vice President of Automotive at Market Strategies-Morpace, about how consumers are responding to these new autonomous enhancements.

By: Dania Rich-Spencer, Vice President, Automotive

 

When Chairman and CEO of General Motors Mary Barra wrote an article for the World Economic Forum in 2016, she stated “I believe the auto industry will change more in the next five to 10 years than it has in the last 50.” Given vehicle companies’ quest to transition from a car maker to a valued mobility company offering services that many of us couldn’t even imagine a few years ago, Barra is spot on about the swift transformation of the auto industry.

While automotive manufacturers have historically described themselves as makers of vehicles for personal and commercial use, today’s OEMs refer to their brands as mobility companies. Yes, they still make cars, trucks, and SUVs – but a combination of new connectivity technology and consumers’ willingness to share products and services now enable auto manufacturers to redefine their relationship with customers – and to enhance the vehicle ownership experience.


A Glimpse into Industry Innovation by Today’s Leading OEMs

A Glimpse into Industry Innovation & AV by Today’s Leading OEMs A variety of popular car makers are investing considerable time, money, technology, and talent to make vast transitions within the marketplace. For instance, the General Motors Marketplace app is considered the “automotive industry’s first commerce platform for on-demand reservations and purchases of goods and services.”

Ford positions FordPass as “the app that amplifies your ownership experience…all to help you get from A to B better.”  Lincoln is redefining the traditional lease with a month-to-month subscription service to better meet customers’ needs and attract younger buyers. Cadillac, Volvo, and Porsche are also offering services to complement the traditional car buying/servicing transactional model.

One may argue that the greatest contribution to this transformation is the development of autonomous vehicles (AVs).  While timelines for fully-developed AVs vary by OEM, there is no doubt they are coming.  It reminds me of the quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “…but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” Today, self-driving vehicles are also part of the inevitable! In fact, Mcity Driverless Shuttle, “the first driverless shuttle project in the U.S. focusing on user behavior research” was launched beginning June 2018, on the University of Michigan’s North Campus.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be a part of this automotive industry transformation and look forward to reminiscing with the grandkids about a world before the car was a powerful computing platform that drove itself. However, I often wonder: do other people see this industry transformation in the same light as I do? How does the “regular Joe” feel about the emergence of self-driving vehicles?

Based on my experience as both a vehicle consumer and professional at Market StrategiesMorpace, I know that familiarity drives acceptance of new technology. With that said, how familiar is the general population with AV technology – and how might they see themselves benefiting from these cars?


Insights into Consumer Awareness & Opinion of Autonomous Vehicles Today

Insights into Consumer Awareness & Opinion of Autonomous Vehicles Today To find out, these are some of the questions we explored in the Morpace Automotive Consumer Pulse Study, an online survey* conducted monthly among approximately 1,000 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older.  We noted several surprising findings, including feedback about the level of awareness for self-driving vehicles:

  • Over eight in ten consumers have heard at least some information about companies working on developing self-driving vehicles. This statistic has remained fairly consistent since October 2017, when the study was initially conducted. It is also consistent with other research.
  • While the general public is aware of autonomous vehicles, there is a lot of uncertainty about the implications of self-driving vehicles. People are not sure if there will be more or fewer accidents and fatalities, whether there will be more or fewer vehicles on the road, or if personal ownership will increase or decline.
  • When asked how the development of self-driving vehicles will benefit them personally, responses are almost equally distributed in thirds across “Positive/Negative/Not Sure.”

Since factors like media coverage and clear, enthusiastic, consumer-based marketing affect the current and future awareness of self-driving automobiles, the interplay between these two factors will shape the short-term pace and long-term outcome of the industry.


Demographic Differences in Consumer Awareness

Demographic Differences in Consumer Awareness of Autonomous VehiclesOne aspect is for sure, however – young adults, followed by those with disabilities and those who have lost their license, will be the first to use a self-driving vehicle. In addition, more males than females are engaged with this topic and are more likely to embrace using a self-driving vehicle. Other data shows:

  • Twice as many males compared to females say that they have seen or heard “a lot” about cars and trucks that can operate on their own without a human driver.
  • Almost half of males think self-driving vehicles are positive for them, compared to just under a third of females.
  • Compared to females, almost twice as many males provide a Top2Box rating (9/10) to being open to using a self-driving vehicle.

This gender difference is not surprising to me, but I’m wondering if auto manufacturers are paying attention to the information. Is it too early to charm females to autonomous vehicles?  Given that women influence a significant portion of the vehicle purchase decision, it may be prudent for OEMs to start the marketing process now by crafting a message targeted to women around the positive implications and personal benefits of using and owning an AV.


A Future with Self-Driving Cars

The industry and its consumers are also interested to know which auto maker may be the first to offer a fully autonomous vehicle for personal use. Toyota takes top spot, followed closely by Ford. Similar to their marketing of apps and subscription services, trusted vehicle makers like these must make the benefits of AVs clear to both male and female consumers, as well as those young and old. These include the benefits of Advanced Drive Assistance Systems (ADAS) features, as well as how their self-driving business models will make operating these vehicles both safe and beneficial to daily life.

While OEMs and their partners evolve their marketing strategies, I am optimistic about the future of transportation and the role the autonomous vehicle plays. Here’s to the next few years of unprecedented change – and the wonder it will bring!

 

*The data collected by the Morpace Automotive Consumer Pulse Study are weighted to ensure relevant demographic characteristics of the sample matched those of the U.S. general population.  All respondents are weighted to U.S. Census Bureau demographic profiles for the U.S. population 18+ on gender, age, income and ethnicity.

 

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18
Jul

Consumer Impact on the Future of Smart Devices

By: Greg Swando, Sr. Director of Client Services, & Richard Clarke, VP Global Partnerships, Vision Critical

 

Are you ready for an experiment? Spend some time watching commercials during primetime TV, or while waiting to board your flight at the airport. In a matter of minutes, you will notice an ever-increasing number of impressive and exciting ads touting smart Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Whether it’s a lonely grandmother connecting with her far-away family, thanks to Alexa and the Amazon Echo Spot, or a busy father scouting Greek food locations with his LG OLED TV with Google Assistant, IoT devices are the present and future answer to consolidating seemingly endless daily tasks and helping consumers connect with family.

Rapid developments are present everywhere we turn. This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) featured a Smart Home Marketplace more advanced – and promising – than ever before. In addition to efficient and connection-based clocks and televisions, trusted brands like Kohler, Whirlpool, and Honeywell are showcasing retail innovations promising to make homes safer, healthier, and more comfortable.

Whether it’s a refrigerator reminding you that your apples and oranges are about to rot – or a connected dishwasher that starts rinsing your dirty china with a simple voice command – appliances and entertainment technology are joining the ranks of smart automobiles and security systems to become the assistants families and professionals didn’t know they needed.

In fact, a recent feature story in Forbes magazine spotlighted how the aforementioned “Alexa” of Amazon fame is now the latest virtual butler to cater to guests staying at Marriott-branded hotels.

“Customers tell us they love how easy it is to get information, enjoy entertainment and control connected devices by simply asking Alexa,” explained Amazon VP Daniel Rausch in the Forbes feature. “We want to offer those experiences everywhere customers want them.”

Consider how the world recently became captivated by the news that the Google Virtual Assistant had used an eerily human sounding voice (replete with “ums” and “ahhs”) to book a hair appointment by phone. Clearly, our ability to engage in multiple tasks at one time – while enjoying the experience – is advancing at a rapid pace that both shocks and delights the American and global consumer base.

From predictive data collection to nearly overnight developments in natural language processing, consumer-oriented brands in all industries are eager to capitalize off the many benefits these devices provide. While the technology is undoubtedly thrilling, the key for commercial enterprises is ensuring their customers understand it, then accept it as quickly as possible.

Top Factors Driving Smart IoT Devices & Consumer Adoption

To obtain wide acceptance, it is up to various industries, from automotive to healthcare to retail, to convince the public that these products are not only beneficial, but necessary. One of the easiest arguments to make to consumers is that it helps them save time while delivering a needed boost in a world of instant gratification. Though companies are finding ways to benefit on their end of the IoT paradigm, what will they need to overcome consumer resistance to giving up a modicum of privacy and control in order to foster wider adoption of the technologies?

     1. Consumer Brand Loyalty  

In a society dominated by brand loyalty, consumers want to know the trusted entities behind the technology – and these savvy virtual assistants. For example, Marriott’s Guestroom Innovation Lab collaborates with Samsung and Legrand to optimize their stay experience. As a result of this technology partnership, guests will interact with Bixby and store much of their data in the ARTIK platform and SmartThings cloud. Put simply, they must like and trust these brands to want to use them. This phenomenon extends across industries.

A family’s smart thermostat may be powered by Alexa, for example – but there still are a limited number of tasks the assistant can handle. If they do not enjoy using Alexa, their continued adoption of similar technology may dwindle. By the same regard, some products will be powered by Apple, while others will run on Google technology. Whether it is the voice assistant drivers used in their Toyota – or the underlying technology which powers the commands to control kitchen appliances, for example  – helping consumers define the relationship between the perks of their devices and who drives them is key.

While it is possible enterprises will be overthinking consumer loyalty to Apple, Microsoft, or another entity, it will behoove them to help their buyers understand who is owning and collecting their data – and how it helps them to achieve their goals and complete daily tasks. In turn, the organizations creating the technology will benefit by hashing out how their devices and clouds interconnect.

     2. Privacy Concerns and the Race for Data Collection

As alluded to previously, the battle is on for the ownership and collection of data by technology companies. The more information businesses have about people using smart IoT devices, the more they will be able to enhance consumer experience and dominate their marketplace. Like-minded, competitive organizations will not be sharing consumer data, so building trust matters.  Autonomous vehicle manufacturers, smart television makers, and blue-chip appliance giants can be sure that their customers haven’t yet forgotten about the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal – or the almost regular notices they receive about their data being included in a restaurant or bank data breach. It is how they handle consumer perception that will drive future adoption.

There are also concerns about IoT smart device spying – and the potential security risks that come with billions of cars, appliances, and entertainment products being connected by the year 2020. With this discussion, however, comes promise – the global market will grow to up to $475 billion by then – a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of a whopping 28.5 percent.

     3. Consumer Budgets, Product Lifecycles, and Device Efficiency

If you have ever had to argue with Siri to get an answer to a simple question, you know the first-hand limitations of smart tech. At a minimum, all devices need to learn from Google Virtual Assistant’s example — concisely understanding what the consumer is saying and using it to complete myriad tasks. Businesses will have to grapple with people who don’t want to adopt new or difficult technology, so ease of use is essential.

These factors intersect with consumer budget. When weighing benefits of smart IoT devices vs. price, difficulty or affordability of adoption may affect the speed at which the industry evolves. For example, a millennial who recently bought a 2016 KIA Soul has some voice capability in their car, but not the newest technology. While they may think new IoT innovations are neat, they are not going to necessarily invest in a new car until they finish making payments. At the point they buy a brand new vehicle, they will upgrade to the latest technology – and then learn how to use it. Many companies at CES argued about the impact price point will have in the speed of adoption – it will be less painful for consumers to buy a smart dishwasher or clock versus a $30,000 vehicle.

     4. Global Adoption of Smart IoT

While it is relatively simple to predict the future of the smart IoT device industry in the fast-paced, instantly gratified United States, it is additionally important for large organizations to consider how the rest of the world deploys and utilizes the technology. While Apple, Google, and Amazon are among the most trusted and used brands in America, Asian and European consumers prefer South Korea’s Samsung and other local companies while Apple’s popularity declines in large markets like China.

Since there are various technological and societal dynamics across the world, companies interested in capitalizing off smart IoT devices must complete their due diligence via extensive and relevant research to understand the various marketplaces in which they compete.

     5. Growing Consumer Industries by Leveraging the Benefits of IoT

Advancements in IoT devices are undoubtedly useful and exciting to both customers and consumer-based industries. However, it is up to the organizations creating innovative products to transform their knowledge about clients’ emotions, needs, and wants into a trust-building engagement strategy.

Automotive companies, for example, must learn how to balance headlines about self-driving car fatalities with public knowledge about the prevalence and usefulness of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), while large home appliance leaders should leverage data to overcome consumers’ inner battle between cost, budget, and benefit.  No matter how advanced a TV or sedan becomes, consumer attitude will drive adoption. These organizations should focus on ways to engage their customer base to add context and establish the “why” factor in using their products.

It is the everyday mission of Market Strategies International-Morpace to assist companies in understanding these nuances through research about consumer habits to support the value proposition of their devices. The companies who currently make IoT devices are primarily focused on technological advancement and product features but ignore customer perception at their own peril. If enterprises can turn consumer data and sentiment into a strategy that delivers on promises of better efficiency and improved connectivity, the increase in global smart IoT will be coupled with a sentiment that consumers cannot live without it. The drive of habit change is trust – and research to inform development, implementation, and marketing strategies will bridge the gap.

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25
Jun

Changing Tides in IoT New Product Development

By Lucas Lowden
Research Director

In early February 2018, I was lucky enough to embark on what many might consider the trip of a lifetime.

My wife and I, along with three other couples, arranged a bareboat charter to sail around the Abaco Islands in the northeast Bahamas for eight days and seven nights. The chartered 40’ catamaran was our “home” for the subsequent week’s adventure of going somewhere new and different each day.

If you are considering taking a trip like this, I can’t recommend it enough. As Nike says – just do it!

Back home, and finally remembering what I did for my day job, came a realization.

My sailing trip parallels well with the development of innovative solutions here at Morpace, and the lessons we continue to learn in the product development process:

  1. Find someone to captain the ship in unfamiliar territory
  2. Focus first, then iterate development so you don’t end up marooned at sea
  3. Don’t let rough seas deter your development – embrace a flexible and adaptive mindset that comes with new adventures

My focus over the last 18 months has been facilitating a cross-functional team to develop big data and IoT capabilities within Morpace – specifically, our first-ever commercially-released mobile application, DataDialogue™|Pulse. This app takes our knowledge of commercial fleets and their business purpose as well as our experience working with telematics data to provide fleet professionals with an easy-to-use mobile app designed to prioritize performance issues adversely impacting profitability.
With data management and analytics in our marketing research DNA, that sounds pretty straightforward, right? Hardly. It has required deep internal engagements, a lot of perspective, and some key partnerships along the way.

  1. In any new venture, it is paramount to be strategic in your pursuits, working closely with partners, as needed.

Seems like a no-brainer, but it is not always easy. This requires you and your team to be completely honest with yourselves—taking a good, hard look in the mirror. The key is to play to your strengths and find partners to supplement you where needed.

In my boating analogy, a friend in the group is a certified and licensed captain, so we were not required to hire a captain or crew. With the captain in place, the other seven of us were the de facto crew. While this was our second trip as a group, we still leaned on his expertise to navigate us safely through the sea. Who knows where we would have ended up if I was captain of that ship.

As we’ve built DataDialogue|Pulse, there are skills and workflows required that are not necessarily the forte of a traditional marketing research company. After some internal cross-functional efforts and debate, we partnered and consulted with a Michigan-based fleet, data scientist, and application development agency (among others) to supplement our product development process with their deeper subject matter expertise.

We see this in today’s changing automotive landscape as well. OEMs are acquiring or partnering within the mobility and autonomy ecosystems with focused start-ups in hopes of getting a leg up in the race to establish a presence in this emerging space. Generally, the more narrowly-focused start-ups lend a much deeper, specific expertise to the broader-focused OEM.

  1. You want to start with the end in mind. Develop a solution that delivers the minimum acceptable level of value and iterate solutions from there.

Especially in today’s tech-centric approach to development, you must begin with a vision for a minimum viable product – a set of features and content that is essential to the success of the product or service. From there, you can plan for more detailed development around expansion in future iterations.

This also requires you to acknowledge selecting tools that work best for your problem/solution, and not vice versa. For example, we built the proof of concept within Microsoft’s PowerBI offering. This worked quite well for that stage of development, however, we ultimately opted for a custom app build to deliver the long-term scalable solution.

Our trip began and ended at the same marina, so we planned an overall course to achieve this. We certainly couldn’t stray hundreds of miles into the open ocean -after all, we had to end back where we started. This required deciding which islands and cays would best fit into a desirable route. Lastly, we decided on the specifics of choosing which islands and activities we wanted to enjoy.

  1. Despite all the planning in the world, your development process will ebb and flow. In the face of it, you will forge ahead even better if you remain flexible.

Doing so requires an adaptive mindset. Seas and weather change, much as does the business environment. You have to constantly assess your situation for disruption or, if you’re lucky, opportunity. Things do not always go as planned, so you need to be able to think quickly, improvise strategically, and move on.

Fortunately in sailing, if the weather becomes prohibitive, there isn’t much of an option than to stay put and ride it out. In business, that generally isn’t the best strategy. Many times, it may require reversing some decisions or work completed to get back onto the best path of development. Do not be discouraged by setbacks; rather, embrace them and learn from them. Sometimes, small setbacks can be the catalyst for an even better strategy.

In our app, we had assumed a relationship of one fleet manager to one fleet business. We quickly learned that one fleet manager may oversee multiple business lines. This dynamic forced our hand to allow for one user to profile multiple fleets’ data sets. While it was a step back in development, it also gave us a more scalable and robust solution in the long run.

As inspiration to you on your path to new product development, I share a handful of adages that ring true for us on our path to developing DataDialogue|Pulse:

  • Be a trailblazer, take the road less traveled
  • If it was easy, everyone would be doing it
  • Take calculated risks – nothing ventured, nothing gained
  • Embrace the opportunity to learn and grow, but fail fast
  • Enjoy the ride – it’s about the journey as well as the destination

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for dedicating your valuable time. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss our new product development journey, more details about my sailing adventure, or to tell me how much you love/hate my blog at llowden@morpace.com.

And don’t forget to pay attention for more news from Morpace and the upcoming release of the DataDialogue|Pulse v1.0 mobile app!

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14
Mar

Insight Communities – Driving ROI, Not Just Research Value


Richard Clarke, Vice President
Global Partnerships, VisionCritical

For decades, research has delivered powerful consumer sentiment and opinion into organizations – enabling these organizations to put the voice of the consumer into their decisions with the goal of creating more meaningful, successful, and effective products and services.

Methods and modes have changed over the years, with more and more complex solutions being created to get closer to the consumer truth at an ever-increasing speed. Incredible insight has been (and will continue to be) gleaned from consumers, informing multiple parts of clients’ business eco-systems. However, for many clients and users, research is seen as a cost center within an organization – something that needs to be done as part of a process or something that must be purchased as part of the broader vision of the business. The value of research is not generally associated as being an integral and fundamental part of overall business planning and development.

This is why whenever there is a downturn in business performance, or regional/global downturns (ex: 2008 Global Financial Crisis), one of the first areas to be questioned and lose budget is research.

What is the “value” that research is delivering?

There are many answers to this question, both objective and subjective, however, too few times does research itself get directly linked back to business performance. Ultimately, asking about the “value” of research is the wrong question. We should be asking: What is the “Return on Investment” of research? Because that is what research is: an investment into the organization, and not a cost.

There are many ways that Return on Investment in research can be measured, including:

  • More informed/accurate business decisions – what is the cost savings from NOT doing the wrong thing or validating the decision (risk aversion)?
  • Faster to market with the RIGHT product – how much does speeding up the development cycle save?
  • Quicker reaction time to customer feedback and demand – what is the short- and long-term savings of rapidly reacting to the situation or of knowing your customers’ buyer journey and pain points?

For years, I have been an advocate of research and Insight Communities – the idea of engaging with individuals to answer the business issues at hand with engaged members who, ultimately, also drive advocacy for the brand. Insight Communities should not be considered a research “cost” but rather as an organizational asset that both informs business decisions and creates brand advocacy among members.

Forrester Consulting recently completed a Total Economic Impact™ Study on the ROI of Insight Communities to clients. In addition to the cost efficiencies and speed value propositions of Insight Communities, Forrester quantified the financial value of continually engaging with members in a community. The highlights include:

  • $1.7M business value from increased customer insight
  • 590% ROI
  • $546K incremental profit and $4.7M increased sales from community members
  • 39% increase in average order value and 70% lower churn rate from community members
  • 75% reduction in cost compared to traditional market research methodologies
  • 4-6x faster speed to results

This continues to reaffirm the belief that an Insight Community is not only an incredibly valuable tool in providing fast and efficient consumer insight, but also drives business action that results in incremental sales and profit for organizations.

These are just some of the reasons that organizations are implementing communities. The client stories about the impact of an ongoing Insight Community are powerful and continue to prove out the short-term and long-term Return on Investment. Shifting the mindset to consumer engagement is resulting in hundreds of organizations realizing significant returns and outcomes (click here for client stories).

Five years ago, communities were more of a niche solution or emerging technology but, according to the latest GreenBook Research Industry Trends Report (Q3 2017), 82% of respondents stated that communities were either in use (60%) or under consideration (22%). This has led GreenBook to no longer believe that they are an emerging solution but are, in fact, a mainstream solution:

“In future editions of GRIT, it is likely that online communities will also be removed from “emerging methods” now that it is mainstream.” (GRIT Q3/Q4 2017).

Ultimately, these two pieces of evidence indicate that an Insight Community is not only a solution that spreads efficient business insight across organizations but is also an asset that drives revenue and profitability – thereby attaching a real-world ROI to the value of the asset.

Feel free to contact me to learn more about how an Insight Community can become your most powerful asset.

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11
Dec

The IoT Frontier: As Seen In Trade Shows

By Lucas Lowden, Research Director

As professionals, we often hear about expanding our horizons. How frequently do we actually do so? In reality, not very often. We get comfortable, and, we are experts at what we do anyway, right?

Commercial Vehicles. Fleets. Construction Equipment. I’ve done plenty of research projects with these professionals.

Big Data. Internet of Things. I’ve heard plenty about these concepts, and do work with a lot of data.

Now put all those ingredients into a pot and distill them into something useful for professionals in those industries?  That’s a different kind of problem. It requires new tools. New skills. A new way of thinking. A new understanding.

Truthfully, everyone’s reality is different and being made uncomfortable is not easy for most.

The last two years of my career have been a whirlwind of discomfort for me. And I’ve loved every minute of it. Learning, growing, helping – each in parallel with teammates and partners alike. In establishing a data-driven mindset we’ve embraced a new way of thinking to get to a new understanding. It’s been incredible!

It’s now late into 2017, and I recently attended the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, NTEA Executive Leadership Summit, and EquipmentWatch’s Traction 2017 show.

Interacting with fleet and equipment professionals at the trade shows forced me to personally broaden my horizons, and embrace the pain points that may make those professionals uncomfortable. I quickly realized that my reality as a Market Research professional differs greatly from that of a Fleet Manager or an Equipment Manager.

Which brings me to the first theme that became apparent to me.

Theme 1: Big Data Is A Big Deal, Getting Bigger With IoT

Let’s start with something that most industries in existence are familiar with – Data. Data. Data.

Data has long been available from an enterprise perspective – financial data, employee data, customer data, and transaction data, among others. Most have utilized each source of data independently for their own practical, everyday needs. Some have integrated the data for a broader application.

Operational data is becoming much more prevalent today – passive data coming in from sensors integrated with all types of equipment and applications used to conduct our everyday business and in our personal lives.

With the IoT I expect the growth curve of data to be an exponential factor the likes of which we may have never seen before. I’ve heard the term 4th Industrial Revolution thrown about. I’m not totally sold on that scope just yet, but it seems more possible than not from my perspective.

Getting the data is often not terribly difficult. Making sense of it is slightly more difficult. Harnessing the power held in these disparate data sources? Broad success stories are far and few between.

So how do we get past this hurdle?

Theme 2: Integration Is Key

Everyone has data. Few have truly harnessed the power of integrating their data to the extent it could be today.

To use an example from a long haul transportation perspective, integrating truck telematics data can give you the amount of fuel burned while a tractor is idling. Layer contextual feedback from a driver survey to understand the idle situation to deem an idle event necessary or unnecessary from a business perspective. Lastly layering that with fuel spend, and you can see how much money lost due to unnecessary idling.

There are lots of high quality solutions in the burgeoning market that provide services around the IOT ecosystem – telematics hardware, internal/external CRM, database architecture, reporting dashboards. As of yet, not many have fully embraced data integration.

That doesn’t even get into what I feel like is the next technology wave of data integration– blockchain. That’s a whole topic in its own right, so will save this for a later post.

For small to midsize organizations this highlights a challenge – they often don’t have the time available or skill set needed to integrate their own data across platforms.

Ultimately, baby steps are critical to integration efforts. Partner. Discuss. Get smarter. Get better. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Integration of data and systems is a natural progression to the final theme.

Theme 3: Any IoT Solution Has To Be Easy To Use

The integration of data at the business level leads to a “what’s next?” question of sorts.

Sometimes, a reporting dashboard can be a solution. For others, it’s an app delivering their data and insights.

Any solution in this space needs to be data-driven and actionable to be most useful and effective for industry executives.

It also needs to be simple and easy to use. Time is money.  Difficult to use and hard to understand solutions cost a company more time and more money.

Currently I’m contributing to a data-driven solution that delivers descriptive dashboards and actionable light-prescriptive reports that, with ongoing interaction, can develop into full predictive and prescriptive systems.

From my perspective, full prescriptive and predictive analytics come with nothing more than time and data pumped into the appropriate systems. Those claiming the ability to do so already are quite far ahead of the curve.

Recap & Conclusion

To work through these steps requires some keen self-awareness and the desire to embrace a data-driven decision making approach around business and competitive intelligence.

In each case, we get there one way – by data.

New technologies are allowing data to be brought in, analyzed, and presented to stakeholders in ways never before imagined.

Doing so represents a whole new batch of challenges at the same time.

Do we have the time? Do we have the people? Do we have the money?

Yes. Yes. Yes. You have to.

If you answer “yes” to all the above then you’re golden. If you don’t answer “yes, I do internally” to all the above that’s ok too. One way to shorten your timeline is to say “yes, I do by partnerships”.

The risk of not saying “yes” and taking action in this new frontier is potentially greater than taking action and failing, but still learning along the way.

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14
Nov

How to Market Products Using China’s City Tiers

By Jenny Zhang, Research Analyst

Companies looking to market in China will hear about the country’s city tiers and wonder what it’s all about. It’s no question that the world’s most populated country would have the highest consumer demand. Their consumer expendable income is also on the rise, and with a flashy, name-brand-recognizing culture, marketing is more important than ever. The question is, can we market products to these so-called “tier cities” and how can we do so? I’ll start with a little explanation and let’s work on answering that question.

I’d like to reference South China Morning Post’s (SCMP) interactive definition of tiers. Here, they divide 613 cities into 4 tiers, but another popular approach is 6 tiers. As you can see, there is no standard way of defining tiers from the government, but the highest tiers, 1 and 2, are generally agreed upon by economists, politicians and the public.

Name a city in China: Beijing? Shanghai? These are Tier 1. The combination of GDP, Politics and Population classifies cities into the four tiers, however, some cities rank differently in the three areas so the average is taken to identify the tier, says SCMP. You can start to see how companies would want to understand tiers so they can target certain people. Consumers in Tier 1 cities tend to be more affluent and highly educated. Tier 4 cities are in the rural parts of Western China. Population is scarce and so are resources. They include provinces such as Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Are you starting to get ideas?

Advertising needs to appeal to the demographics. Same with promotions or deals. We will start asking what kind of media to advertise on based on what the consumers have access to. So the answer to the question we had in the beginning is “yes”, we can market products to different tiers and the way to do so depends on your product. The next time a client asks you about marketing in China, suggest looking at tiers and see where your research takes you.

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8
Nov

Tactics For Humanizing Data From Connected Devices and IoT To Drive Business Outcomes

By Lucas Lowden, Research Director

Connected devices. Automation. Machine learning. Artificial intelligence.

Just a few short years ago, we would’ve thought we were watching a science fiction movie.

There is much discussion around these technologies – and for good reason! Each are critical components of scalable Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Today, it is the reality of our day jobs. With the support of various functions across the organization, we are actively establishing Morpace’s thought leadership and positioning for what we believe will be the future of the market research industry.

In support of these technologies, the importance of the human element should not be discounted.

There are numerous human interactions that provide crucial inputs to enable successful automation of machine processes. Doing so allows for a broader understanding and application of big data to produce actionable insights for business outcomes.

With several years growing in this space, we have developed a passion about leveraging big data and IoT systems. We have also realized the importance of Big Context – the intersection of man and machine that layers contextual understanding and lends business meaning to these massive data systems.

Are you leveraging Big Context in your business? Are you finding the humanity within your organization’s data?

Join the Strategists on Morpace’s Growth & Innovation Team – Jason Mantel (Sr. VP), Dania Rich-Spencer (VP), and myself, Lucas Lowden (Research Director) – for our webinar from Qualtrics’ Experience Week, Big Context: Humanizing Big Data From Connected Devices” and learn about tactics for driving positive business outcomes. To sign up and view our webinar, click here.

In the webinar, we explore the tenants of Big Context and how we have proven the importance of the human element and answering the question “Why?” for an automotive manufacturer and a transportation & logistics fleet.

We encourage you to reach out to us directly for any questions or further discussion around humanizing your organizations’ data at information@morpace.com.

 

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