Harris Poll Shows Low Use and Low Appeal of in-Car Voice Apps

The automotive industry is engaged in an infotainment arms race, but consumers aren't necessarily buying into it, according to new data from The Harris Poll.

In fact, findings suggest that simply flooding the marketplace with new features might do little to accelerate consumer adoption. Educating consumers about the value of existing features and cultivating usage might have a more positive effect on both selling cars and increasing customer loyalty, The Harris Poll found.

Overall, a handful of technologies separate themselves in this year's 2015 Harris Poll AutoTECHCAST, an annual study of consumer awareness and adoption of advanced and emerging automotive technologies. On the positive side, back-up cameras, warning systems, and blind spot warning systems score well as technologies showing positive momentum. On the other end of the spectrum, real-time navigation, personal assistance services, and text-to-speech/speech-to-text options show declining momentum.

The AutoTECHCAST survey was conducted among more than 14,000 U.S. recent new car buyers and covers approximately 60 technologies.

Only 16 out of 60 technologies evaluated obtain good familiarity scores. Back-up cameras (61 percdent), satellite radio (51 percent), and back-up warning systems (42 percent) are the technologies with the highest familiarity scores. Technologies such as automatic window tinting (7 percent), augmented reality dashboards (7 percent), and driver mode controls (6 percent) record the lowest familiarity scores in the study.

"The risk of low familiarity is that consumers fail to recognize the value of features, fail to associate the value with specific brands, and may lead to negative perceptions about the brand and/or the industry," said Larry Shannon-Missal, managing editor of The Harris Poll, in a statement. Low familiarity with individual components may be a result of consumers feeling inundated with technology in their new car purchases, with over four in 10 recent car buyers (42 percent) believing carmakers add too much technology to their vehicles.

When considered in isolation, satisfaction with infotainment features appears relatively strong. However, when placed in context with other vehicle technologies, almost all (14 out of 17) of the infotainment features rank in the bottom half of the satisfaction ratings.

"The explosion of simple smartphone capabilities related to navigation, music, and other areas may be leading to some drops in satisfaction within the automotive market and may increasingly lead to a drop in the usage of infotainment systems," said Shannon-Missal. Many of the poorest performing options in the satisfaction area were functions that directly compete with smartphone features, such as built-in apps and voice-activated controls.

Technology/features are among the top five most important factors in recent car purchasers' decisions (after price, fuel economy, reliability/dependability and value for the money), with 40 percent acknowledging it played a role. Women, parents, those with household incomes less than $50,000, and millennials all appear to place more importance on technology over the past few years.

The AutoTECHCAST survey results suggest that satisfaction with technology features can drive customer loyalty. Satisfied infotainment users are 5.7 percent more likely than non-satisfied users to remain loyal to their current brands. Additionally, those who report being satisfied with how the technology works in their vehicles are three times more likely to purchase from the same manufacturer compared to those who are dissatisfied (68 percent versus 23 percent).

SpeechTek Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues