The perception: Customers demand personalization
There is a sense or strongly held belief that “customers demand personalization”, but how true is that really? We decided to ask the people who know best: the customers themselves.
Our survey: Revealing what customers really want
For our final challenge, Challenge #5, facing the Automotive Industry future we looked at: Personalization. In one of the first surveys of its kind to ask customers what they really want, we asked our 7,000 respondents to assess the importance of in-car personalization.
We divided our results into premium car owners, non-premium car owners, and non-owners. Here’s our key findings.
Premium car owners: Personalization? Maybe…
Of our share of respondents that see personalization as top 3 (out of 16) criteria for
car purchase, only 15% of premium car owners agree – and this applies to the US,
Europe and China. As for car sharing, this slips to 13% in the US and Europe, but is
17% in China. As for autonomous mobility solutions, the desire for personalization
slips to 11% in US, rising to 15% in Europe, and is again 17% in China.
Non-premium car owners: Customers in China care
In terms of car purchase, it is even lower with only 8% of non-premium car owners in
the US wanting personalization and rising to only 11% in China. As for car sharing, the
desire among non-premium car owners goes from 8% in the US to 10% in China. And
for autonomous mobility services, only 8% of non-premium car owners in both US
and Europe rank personalization as a top 3 criteria; while in China this rises again to
Non-owners: Aren’t so interested
Dropping in importance even further, only 4% of non-owners in the US see
personalization as a top 3 criteria for purchasing a car; this rises to 6% in Europe and
9% in China. For car sharing, however, it jumps to 11% in the US for importance, whilst
still being only 7% in Europe and 9% in China. And, in terms of autonomous mobility
services, personalization for non-owners is a top 3 criteria for 11% in the US, 8% in
Europe and a higher number again of 12% in China.
A breakout of personalization preferences:
When asked about their specific preferences around in-vehicle personalization options for autonomous vehicles, customers made it clear that they prefer options which give space to passengers and enable them to relax while on the road:
Our observations: Importance and tastes vary
Currently, many OEMs pour significant resources in personalizing the vehicle interior (e.g. account-based seat adjustment, personalized climate control etc.) and see it as a core differentiator. However, importance of personalization varies greatly between premium and non-premium brand customers. The only thing all customers agree on is the wish for “personal space” and “interior to relax” (50 to 60% of respondents) in (semi-) autonomous vehicles. For premium brand customers, in-car personalization of settings is an important criterion for purchase and mobility service choice – ranging from 13% to 17% of premium car owners rank it as one their top 3 criteria.
Our recommendations: Perceptions will change
Customer perception of “personalization” will change with the arrival of autonomous services. Currently, in car personalization in an autonomous future is mainly linked to convenience (e.g. automatic seat adjustment); however, the focus will shift towards use-case driven personalization.
While the share of premium brand customers that see “personalization” as a top 3 criterion is 13% to 17% at present, personalization might still be the deciding factor when choosing between different premium brands. Convenience driven personalization, in particular, will stay an important criterion for customers for ownership as well as service models. Therefore, the current investments in personalization are justified and will help differentiate OEMs to competitors.