RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Experts predict that personalization of the in-car experience will become a key differentiator for OEMs and mobility service providers.
  • However, our research indicates that customers aren’t excited about personalization options just yet.
  • OEMs should factor these findings into their plans – and make sure that they’re driving efforts to change customers’ current views.


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

About 15% of premium car owners see personalization as a key reason to buy, 11-15% percent (depending on the market) see it as a key reason to share.

Non-premium car owners

Between 8 and 11 percent of non-premium car owners consider personalization as buying criteria; even less for rent (8-10 percent).

Non-owners

Non-owners show even less interest in personalization when buying (4-9% consider it a criterion) – but slightly more when sharing (11-12%).

View All

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 12%.

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:

Mobility Services: The Customer Perspective: Chart with research results for Interior preferences in autonomous vehicles (results for the USA).
Mobility Services: The Customer Perspective: Chart with research results for Interior preferences in autonomous vehicles (results for Europe).
Mobility Services: The Customer Perspective: Chart with research results for Interior preferences in autonomous vehicles (results for China).

Interior preferences in autonomous vehicles

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.

Premium OEMs

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.



About the Authors

Axel Schmidt

Senior Managing Director – Global Mobility Industry Lead


Juergen Reers

Managing Director – Mobility X.0 Lead


Alexander Huber

Managing Director – Automotive


Daniel Tegtmeyer

Senior Manager – Automotive


Tobias Kruse

Business Design Director – Fjord, Regional

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