Perspectives, News & Opinions From The Researchers At Edison

The New Car Dashboard: Miles Different

Entry by Edison Research | Thursday, October 24th, 2013 | Permalink

Last month at the Radio Show, Jacobs Media presented some very humorous videos of people sitting down in front of new connected car systems for the first time. The subjects were asked simply to tune to their favorite local radio station–and no one could do it. It was an entertaining video, highlighting just how unintuitive these systems were upon first usage–but what about a few months after the customer has left the dealership? Are they happy with the car? How long does it take to get used to the technology? And which, if any, listening behaviors have changed since owning the car and getting acclimated to the new dashboard options?

So Edison Research set out to make our own videos.  We searched around New Jersey and nearby Pennsylvania – you will be able to tell from the accents – and talked to half a dozen people who have had these systems for a while.  Let’s take a look.

In the videos below you’ll see how the people we spoke to are mostly comfortable with the technology.  Their habits have changed – some have made major changes and adjustments to their daily habits, while others only made more limited changes (on long trips, for example.) You’ll also see how they interact with the touch and voice command technology and how – as you will hear one respondent put it – the car driving experience is “miles different”.

Let’s start with the question that sparked this experiment. How comfortable are the drivers after having had the time to get to know their car?

So during that video we saw everything from Linda, who is retired and was the first to admit that she has challenges with technology, to Diane, in her 20’s, who seems to have it all figured out. Now let’s see what they are listening to in the car:

There really are a lot of choices. And one thing that we haven’t really heard discussed so much is that when people buy a new car that has all these souped-up options, they get SiriusXM on trial as well.  So there are a ton of new options PLUS satellite radio on top of that.  We asked respondents if having all these options has changed their listening habits.

If you work in legacy broadcast radio, some of that’s a little tough to sit through.  But one thing that is crystal clear with this small group of people is that they DO go to radio for unique, compelling, ‘live and local’ content that they can’t access through any of their seemingly infinite choices.

Let’s move on to hear what some of them say about manipulating touch screens:

And those who aren’t using touch screens are using voice commands:

If you think about it, learning voice commands is probably the biggest behavior modification out of all this technology, as today’s consumers are now so used to touchscreen technology. While facility and familiarity with voice commands are improving, we do know that they just aren’t there yet.

So let’s get to the bottom line with these people – what has been the total impact on their behavior and how do they project themselves behaving going forward?

The big perspective to emerge from watching all of these videos is that if this group is representative of those who acquire connected-car systems, word-of-mouth is going to be powerful and positive.

What jumps out is that when people buy these cars, they come under what might be called a “Barrage of New.”  These people don’t just acquire a Sync or Entune system, they also get a free trial of satellite radio and other new content options as well.  Drivers want to explore these new features not only out of curiosity, but also to justify their investment. The “new” ends up being an important driver, so to speak.

For those in broadcast radio, there has to be much more consideration of ‘new,’ and more consideration of devices (especially in-car devices) and how to make radio exciting and new in this space.  And we have to consider the lack of ‘new’ in the content on radio.  So many of the stations, formats, shows and talent haven’t changed in years or decades.

As the entire DASH Conference has shown, the competition is vastly more varied than we previously understood.  The old radio dial truly is infinite today.

Here is an interview with Edison President Larry Rosin about the results:


One Response to “The New Car Dashboard: Miles Different”

  1. […] built into digital dashboards, Edison Research has produced video interviews with recent buyers. (Watch the videos here.) Unlike the eye-opening videos of prospective buyers trying to turn on the radio for the first […]

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