24
Jan

Disconnected: Why OEM Apps Aren’t Riding Shotgun on the Connected Vehicle Journey

By: Automotive professionals Corey Reiter & Stephan Schroeder

Connected vehicle technology is rapidly becoming ubiquitous, both here in the United States and across the globe. This year, according to Statista, it is expected that more than 64 million cars worldwide will be shipped with some form of connected tech.

For those proclaiming the arrival of a bold future – one in which cars will pilot their way down the road with little to no input from a human driver – connected services are seen as a major building block of this transformation, and manufacturers clearly are eager to put upgraded tech into the hands of consumers. Ultimately, many OEMs would love it if consumers viewed them as much as mobility providers as manufacturers of transportation products.

As OEMs gain greater ownership stakes in innovative mobility entities, connected services are also seen as a new, recurring revenue stream of the future for the automotive industry. Manufacturers are counting on these services as future drivers of engagement and consumer loyalty, helping to offset declining revenue in other areas.

However, in a proprietary survey* we recently conducted, it appears that consumers are still struggling to develop a connected relationship with their daily rides. We found that 84 percent of 1,000 drivers surveyed aren’t using mobile apps that OEMs have developed to control aspects of the ownership and driving experience.

It’s a startling statistic, given that mobile application use is a very common consumer practice across most service sectors, from buying tickets online and monitoring news feeds to business practices such as remote industrial control and fleet management. So why the reluctance to adopt connected car applications? And how do OEMs close this gap? Let’s take a closer look.

 

Marketing OEM Apps and Connected Services

We learned from our sample group that a majority – 56 percent – weren’t even aware of the existence of an OEM app. This stifling lack of awareness would seem to be an easy hurdle to cure – far easier, it would seem, than convincing the next largest group – 27 percent – who were aware of the existence of the OEM app but weren’t impressed enough to use it.

As we delved deeper, we learned that marketing of OEM apps was limited – mostly left to salespeople who may not have the technical background to spotlight key features; or to a link on a website with little fanfare.

Clearly, more proactive marketing of the apps will help, but it also will be valuable to position these apps as a critical ingredient in “personalizing” the driver experience. Salespeople at the dealership have an opportunity now to use these apps to build trusted relationships with buyers by focusing on features of connected services particular to that individual. If the sales mantra in the past was to get “butts in the seats,” the future will be about getting “thumbs on the buttons.” Focusing on the connected services that heighten the level of interaction between the consumer and the vehicle, and getting consumers to experience the digital relationship with the vehicle can, over time, become a new way to create brand and dealer loyalty.

 

Creating a More Engaging Experience

The most popular features of connected services all endeavor to heighten the direct level of interaction between the driver and the vehicle. That said, it’s the table stakes of the driving experience – things like roadside assistance and navigation – that are seen as most valuable in an OEM app. Though in-vehicle messaging and music streaming are innovative, they rank near the bottom of the survey because they’re not as essential to bringing the driver closer to the automobile as things like maintenance alerts, remote lock/unlock or remote engine start. So it’s not surprising that features that offer the convenience of interacting with the car from a remote location or help to improve the experience with the car, rank near the top.

When asked to be futurists, survey respondents said they hoped that future enhancements to OEM apps would include things like notifications, remote climate control, personalized cabin preparation or remote access to onboard cameras.

 

App School 101

Those same salespeople who first introduced the app to the consumer were also called upon to train consumers on their use. Though we cannot draw a conclusion about the effectiveness of salesperson-led training, it’s noteworthy that nearly the same amount of those surveyed opted to educate themselves about the app outside of the dealership. This underscores the importance of making training materials easily available online, so consumers can bone up at their leisure.

 

Reinventing the Customer Relationship

By using the app training experience as another touchpoint toward personalization of the vehicle to the owner’s individual tastes, dealers can build a better relationship between the buyer and the dealership itself. Hence, the new offerings of connected services provide the dealerships with a unique window of opportunity to reinvent the relationship with their customers by focusing on the engagement with the vehicle rather than focusing on just the vehicle itself.

If dealerships can move away from the transaction mindset and, instead, help create a personal relationship between the customer and the vehicle, then dealerships themselves have the opportunity to create a personalized retail experience. They can then better retain their customers outside of warranty lifespan and the relatively long period of time in-between the next car purchase.

 

Delivering Satisfaction

OEM apps tend to receive the best ratings from drivers who have integrated the apps into their routine. A strong majority of drivers surveyed responded that they are very satisfied with the usage of OEM apps, while a very small minority reported not being satisfied at all with the app usage. As OEM app usage is adopted at a greater level, and the insight provided by current users is ascertained and acted on for future feature development, OEM apps can heighten the level of satisfaction and, as a result, increase the loyalty to the brand.

So, how will the market ultimately embrace OEM apps? As our survey indicates, having a deep and detailed understanding of the digital experience – and the role OEM apps can play in helping to personalize this experience – represents the best pathway to success. Although the adoption of connected services may become more prevalent over time, OEMs and dealers will experience faster and more profitable growth if they understand how to bring the consumer into a level of personalization with the apps. This, in turn, will bring consumers closer to the automobile, and create a more satisfied mobility experience inside and outside of the car.

If we can help you to better understand consumer habits around connected vehicle technology, please give us a call.

Corey Reiter & Stephan Schroeder, Morpace Automotive

 

*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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8
Sep

Is Autonomy Happening Too Fast?

Is autonomy happening too fast?

By: Greg Swando, Senior Research Director

While automotive manufacturers across the globe work feverishly to equip their current automotive line with the latest Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), and some even striving for full autonomy as early as 2020, how are consumers reacting to this new technology?

We’ve published a new study on consumer sentiments toward autonomous driving technologies and among the findings we learned that up to 50 percent of U.S. drivers that own vehicles equipped with driver assistance systems are turning them off.

Why? According to consumers it’s because some feel they are more confident in their own abilities to anticipate emergency situations.  Others find the warnings and audible alerts to be annoying. Several consumers don’t fully trust some of the ADAS technologies that are now being incorporated, while others may not even be aware whether or not they own the features.

At the same time, there are segments of consumers seeking out ADAS features and excitedly look forward to the day of a fully autonomous vehicle. These consumers are ready, and willing to put full their trust in the current technology—but is the technology ready to be trusted? Take a look at the recent Tesla Autopilot crash. We believe that one of the outcomes of our study is that consumers need to be educated on how these features work, why they’re needed, and how they can benefit from them.

While OEMs are planning to increase their investments and marketing spend toward fully autonomous vehicles within the next 10 years, consumers need to feel better prepared to drive these vehicles than they are today. Such consumer education is key to not only getting the public to trust the new features, but to also use them properly so that accidents, like the recent Tesla one, can be avoided.

Our study, A Consumer Centric Journey Toward Autonomy, highlights customer opinions and experiences—both good and bad—when it comes to autonomous features, and found various consumer personas that will shape future autonomous vehicle adoption. These findings will help OEMs and suppliers better understand the consumer and their relationship to new autonomous technology, preventing the consumer from feeling autonomy is being adopted too quickly.

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31
Aug

Auto Manufacturers’ Response to the Takata Airbag Recall

Auto Manufacturers’ Response to the Takata Airbag Recall

By Greg Deinzer, Research Director

If you are like 62% of Americans, you are aware of the largest-ever U.S. auto recall by Japanese company Takata Corporation for defective airbag systems. The recall affects tens of millions of vehicles and dozens of vehicle manufacturers/brands, and has expanded dramatically over the past six months. Findings from Morpace’s July 2016 Omnibus survey of 1,000 U.S. respondents provide consumers’ opinions and feedback on this critical concern.

According to media reports in May of this year, at least 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the airbag problem worldwide. Additionally, the recall is expected to take place in phases over the next 2-3 years, and a few auto manufacturers are still equipping their new vehicles with the type of Takata airbags that are currently being recalled. Here’s hoping the other 38% who are unaware of the recall stay off the road for the next three years.

Somewhat surprisingly, those aware of the recall have about the same impression of the auto industry as those who are unaware, with more than one-third rating it “Good” or “Excellent”, over half rating it “Fair”, and only 1-in-10 rating it “Poor” or “Very Poor.” Ratings are higher for those on the recall list and for drivers who have been notified by the manufacturer or have had their airbags replaced. Even so, one-fourth of those who heard about the recall before this survey have a somewhat lower or much lower opinion of the auto industry in general.

Honda/Acura and Toyota/Lexus automobiles account for over half of the vehicles mentioned by survey respondents as being on the recall list. Although 6-in-10 vehicles on the list have already been replaced, 82% of those who are still waiting for replacement airbags have not been given an estimated time frame for their repairs.

Dealer Manufacturer actions chart

Seventy percent of those who are still waiting for replacement airbags are driving their vehicle as usual. That is, they are not taking any additional actions or precautions such as driving the vehicle less often, or not allowing anyone to sit in the front passenger seat. Likewise, in over one-fourth (28%) of pending recall replacements, the dealers or manufacturers are not providing any amenities to those who are waiting.

On the other hand, many companies are taking steps to alleviate or correct the situation by installing airbags from another supplier, providing a rental car, or deactivating or removing the airbags altogether until they can be replaced.

Some feel that mistakes happen and that recalls are inevitable. As one respondent put it, “auto manufacturers should not be blamed for the defects of one supplier.” Yet others hold vehicle manufacturers to a higher standard and expect quicker notification, an action plan, and replacement in a shorter period of time.

Many hold a more negative view—that automakers are willing to cut corners at the expense of safety. One respondent referenced an ironic fact: “a safety airbag manufacturer that manufactures unsafe equipment.”  Still, in relation to the airbag recall, only 7% do not feel at least moderately safe driving their vehicle.

Consumers are split on their feelings of how Takata is handling the recall. Thirty-four percent are “Very” or “Completely Satisfied”, 33% are “Moderately Satisfied”, and 33%are “Not Very” or “Not at all satisfied.” Auto manufacturers receive higher satisfaction ratings. Almost half of respondents are “Very” or “Completely Satisfied” with the way their vehicle manufacturer is handling the recall.

This illustrates the importance of open communications by suppliers and OEMs in clearly disseminating information and warnings to the public even if your hands are tied for months or even years. In this case, and probably many others like it, the public is likely to be more forgiving when transparency is used with consumers.

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