Last week, Business Insider launched a survey to help determine the technology consumers want in their cars. Suffice it to say, as someone more than a little interested in the “connected car” space and a researcher, they had my attention.
So as I worked my way through this brief survey, I discovered something very important was missing: RADIO. Now we know that radio is facing challenges in cars on both the sales and programming sides. But radio and cars, they're like peanut butter and jelly. Or at least that an analogy we've become fond of saying. Based on this survey, however, broadcast radio's top-of-mind awareness may be in some jeopardy.
There was a question about the sources you use to learn about new cars. Notice what’s missing?
Yup, even though automotive is the #1 category of radio advertising, Business Insider neglected to list “Radio ads” as a choice. While I typed it into the “Other” box, we all know how “write-in candidates” tend to fare.
But the question that rankled me had to do with identifying the most desirable in-car tech items. Here’s the list:
There’s no listing for “radio” of any kind – AM/FM, satellite, or even streaming radio. Now you can argue that radio (of any kind) is a “connected-car feature.” But this is list that includes a music and video library, mobile phone, web browsing, games and other entertainment outlets. And research we've conducted and studied over the years typically includes media and entertainment features.
More importantly, including radio provides context to all these other features. Respondents will most definitely rate these connected features in this Business Insider study, but will they use them when they get behind the wheel? The recent J.D. Power “Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience Report” presented by Dave Sargent at DASH last November underscores this point.
So there is the technology, media, entertainment, and information services that are available with new cars. And then there are these same features that consumers actually use. All the more reason why research in the automotive space needs to take a more expansive view of this rapidly growing space.
And this brought to mind the results of our Techsurvey12 that we’re in the process of finalizing. We ask those who have recently purchased/leased a new car and those in the market for one about the features that are most important to have in their next vehicle.
And here are the results:
We see this every time we ask this question in our surveys – broadcast radio is absolutely essential, even up against connected technologies, CD players, navigation, and yes, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The AM/FM radio is technology, it is always the leader, and so it’s essential to provide that response in questionnaires. Yes, other “connected” features, like Bluetooth and WiFi, are growing in importance to consumers, but at the end of the day, they want they radios.
And not just in our surveys. Across the pond, Radioplayer UK just completed a survey of its own. And the results are quite similar, as more than eight in ten of their 1,500 respondents in the UK, France, and Germany report that radio is a must.
Radioplayer UK’s slogan – “Great cars need great radios” – sums it up well. You can see the entire infographic, as well as access consumers videos, and other materials here.
It starts with understanding the space. And it starts with asking the right questions.
This Business Insider study is more proof the radio broadcasting industry needs to work together to make its case. The auto industry is moving at Mach 3 with its center stack technology, and radio is not their focus. When the results of this survey lands in thousands of email boxes, key players in the auto industry aren't going to see radio show up, because it never had presence in the questionnaire to begin with.
That’s why it’s imperative the key players in broadcast radio go on the offensive in 2016 to keep radio forefront in the hearts and minds of automakers everywhere.
Otherwise, we’ll all be asking “Where’s radio?”
I will be moderating “The Changing Face of the Car Dashboard” at Canadian Music Week's Radio Interactive Summit (May 5-6) in Toronto. The panel features Westwood One's Pierre Bouvard, J.D. Power's J.D. Ney, and automotive consultant and two-time DASH veteran, John Ellis. This is a great conference and you get more information here.
Thanks to Randy Kabrich for making me aware of the Business Insider research survey.
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