Study: Generational divide in (dis)-connected cars

Technology and strategy company Lochbridge surveyed nearly 1,500 consumers across age demographics to investigate demand for digital technology in the car — how much, what kind, and among whom. The study is called “Connectivity and the Generational Divide.” (PDF here.)lochbridge nav and music

Though recently released, the survey was conducted in June, 2014 among U.S. Internet users 18 years old and above. the survey platform was Google Consumer Surveys, which targets audience segments by means of Google technology. (“We infer the person’s gender, age, and geographic location based on their browsing history and IP address.”)

The Lochbridge report emphasizes how demand skews in age groups. Not surprisingly, and similar to other studies, familiarity with, and demand for in-car digital listening is fueled by younger groups. Lochbridge identified an age threshold of 45 years, above which receptivity to automotive connectivity drops off. Demand for “more apps” in the car is 36 percentage points higher among the under-45 crowd.

lochbridge 45 threshhold

Across the demographic range, 44% of respondents use music apps in cars where there is no built-in Internet connection. That is the second-highest usage of in-car phone apps; the greatest use goes to navigation.

Lochbridge specifically questioned demand for easy and safe in-car use of smartphones. Fiddling with small devices while driving is an obvious and much-discussed problem with in-car app listening, with solutions from Google and Apple starting to enter new cars this year. For several years Ford has provided dashboard technology for safer app use that app creators can hook into. The main user-interface strategy of all these solutions is to transfer a large, simplified version of the phone app to the dashboard. Ideally, choosing an Internet station or playlist would be as easy as tuning a traditional radio.

In the study, demand to “easily and safely access every app […] while driving” skews young, dramatically. While 64% of the youngest target group (18-24 years) expressed demand, the number went down with each older group. Even so, 19% of the 65+ cohort said “Yes” to that question.

Brad Hill