When it Comes to Auto Tech, Safety is in Pole Position

When it Comes to Auto Tech, Safety is in Pole Position

While there’s no shortage of high-tech innovation in our pockets, homes and on the horizon, none rank higher than safety when it comes to what Americans look for in their vehicles. In fact, across five key categories in a recent Nielsen survey, U.S. consumers said they’re most interested in technology that falls into the safety category, besting connectivity, comfort/convenience, driver assistance and fuel efficiency.

Across those five categories, Nielsen’s 2016 AutoTECHCAST study found that while connectivity and convenience are key considerations for manufacturers to consider in their vehicles, they don’t carry nearly as much weight as safety does.

To arrive at the interest index scores for each of the five categories, Nielsen combined two key tech metrics: consideration at market price and differentiation. The interest index scores ranged from 33.7 to 41.3 for these categories and are based on survey responses of “very likely” and “extremely likely” for each of these two metrics.

In looking deeper into the data, the study highlighted that the score wasn’t the effect of just one or two technologies. Rather, Americans ranked seven of the 11 technologies in the safety category higher than the overall study’s average interest level. Within the overall safety category, rear camera mirror, blind spot detection and prevention system, and surround view camera system scored the highest in terms of interest, achieving individual scores of 52.8, 52.6 and 46.7, respectively. But not all safety tech is created equal, as biometric security features and augmented reality head-up displays scored the lowest in terms of interest, with “poor” index ratings of 29.2 and 31.0, respectively.

Convenience-geared driver assistance tech scored much lower among Americans. Notably, only three of the seven driver assistance technologies scored above the overall average for interest. It’s also worth noting that “autonomous / piloted vehicle” was the only driver assistance technology to receive a “poor” interest index rating (23.9)

Given Americans’ clear interest in safety, it’s not surprising that safety-associated driver assistance innovations are viewed by many as strong purchase drivers. Notably, 63% of U.S. consumers said they view low-speed collision avoidance technology as a differentiator if it’s available on a vehicle they’re considering. Other top differentiating driver assistance technologies include enhanced collision mitigation system (57%) and emergency braking and steering (55%).

From a marketing perspective, it’s hard to compete with low prices. And to that effect, price remains the most important consideration U.S. consumers think about when they’re considering a new vehicle. That said, however, the importance of price fell 2% in 2016, suggesting a shifting tide. What’s causing that shift? Safety features have grown in importance by 5% over the past three years, while the importance of advanced tech (which includes all 44 technologies in the 2016 AutoTECHCAST survey) has grown by 2% over the same period.

For additional insights, download Nielsen’s 2016 AutoTECHCAST Report Lite report.