Premium Audio UX Losing Appeal

Consumers’ interest in adding a premium audio system as an option at vehicle purchase has levelled off or decreased in Western markets since 2018. In the 2019 edition of Strategy Analytics’ annual Premium Audio Report from the in-Vehicle UX (IVX) group, car owners in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and China were surveyed to investigate their interest and willingness to pay for an in-vehicle premium audio system. Consumer brand perception for 16 premium audio brands was also considered. Despite there still being relatively strong interest in premium audio systems, Strategy Analytics has found that this feature is losing its appeal in some circles.

Key report findings:

  • Premium audio remains a draw among varied segments, but interest in the US has slipped since 2018. Comparatively, in Western European countries, premium audio is a consideration for at least one third of car buyers.
  • Interest in premium audio trends slightly younger than the average car-buying age in Western markets, but is very much in play for key car-buying segments in China.
  • Bose remains the most well-known and perceived in-car audio brand worldwide. This is especially so in the US where Bose enjoys a significant lead over its nearest competition, Sony. Bose’s lead over Sony and Bang & Olufsen in Western Europe is much less robust.

Derek Viita, Senior Analyst IVX and report author commented, “For car audio stakeholders, 2019 is simultaneously the best and worst of times. Conditions in the automotive space are ideal for audio suppliers to showcase their expertise in the space by offering premium systems as value-additions. With the spread of homogenous touchscreens and smartphone projection systems, automakers are looking for novel ways to differentiate their offerings. In addition, the explosion of streaming services as a preferred infotainment source, primes the market for a supplier to prove that they can best deliver a versatile in-car audio experience consumers want.”

Continued Viita, “But consumer interest in premium audio has levelled off or decreased in Western markets. This indicates that despite relatively strong affinity, the feature has lost some traction among key car-buying segments.”

Added Chris Schreiner, Director, Syndicated Research UXIP, “Moreover, willingness to pay for premium audio in the US dropped year-over-year across all price points. This could be an early indicator that the availability of media content in the car, for example via streaming services, is becoming more important than the quality of that content.”

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