Looking into the Future of Voice Services in the Car
Arianne Walker Mar 13, 2019
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Automotive
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Like most of you, when I was first learning to drive, I was told to keep my hands on the wheel at the 10 and 2 positions. In fact, keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road should be the mantra for every driver out there. But we also want to remain productive and keep ourselves entertained behind the wheel, especially as daily commutes take up more of our waking hours and we spend more time in the car.

Voice services in the car offer an exciting solution. They can help us maintain focus (with our hands in the proper positions) while keeping us connected to our digital life outside of the car, from our favorite entertainment (music, podcasts, audiobooks) to calendars and to-do lists. This prospect is especially appealing to the next generation of car buyers.

At Amazon, we wanted to better understand customer demand and expectations for voice in the car, so we worked with J.D. Power to conduct a survey of US consumers who owned a voice-enabled device like the Amazon Echo and had purchased or leased a new vehicle in the past 5 years. As a result of the study, we found that members of Gen Y (those born between 1977 and 1994) are particularly interested in voice technology in the vehicle.

Their interest in voice technology in the vehicle aligns with J.D. Power data, which consistently finds that members of Gen Y seek out the latest technology, are willing (and able) to pay for it, and report higher satisfaction due to their familiarity with it outside of the vehicle. Automakers should pay particular attention to this generation's expectation and desires as they become the next largest generation to buy cars (after Boomers).

We shared some of our initial findings from the study in a blog post last month, but we also wanted to highlight three more interesting things we learned:

First, a majority of U.S. consumers want voice technology in the car. This is especially true among younger generations: Among Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z, more than 80% of respondents said they want some sort of voice service available in their cars. Additional data from the report suggests this interest is increasingly driven by the availability of voice services in other environments, such as smart speakers and mobile phones.

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Second, familiarity with voice technology in the home is shaping expectations and desires for voice in the vehicle. The desire to carry over the same brand of in-home voice service is highest for Gen Y: 83% of respondents were interested in having the same brand of their in-home voice service on their next vehicle.

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Third, younger generations may be more loyal to their voice service than they are to a specific vehicle brand. 74% of Gen Y and 79% of Gen Z respondents say they would definitely or probably modify their vehicle decision by a branded voice service availability. This indicates that automakers should provide multiple voice options inside the vehicle going forward.

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The bottom line: Don’t get left behind. Younger generations expect to be able to be entertained and productive while in the vehicle and a great voice service is key to that experience. Automakers need to think about how to get branded voice services into their vehicles as Gen Y increasingly reach the life stage where vehicle ownership becomes important.