Years ago, in an OEM new product launch focus group, a manufacturer found out that 80of the consumers were more interested in the SUV’s interior appointments – especially the touch screen – than they were the vehicles exterior. When asked why, the answers were all along the same line: “I spend lots of time inside my car driving, and I want it to be as nice as it can be. I don’t look at the outside. The inside reflects me.”

So, it comes as no surprise that a recent study funded by entertainment and device maker Xperi showing how consumers place a high value on in-dash infotainment. It’s even more interesting because of the type of consumer.

With COVID’s barrage of fear, car buyers are placing a premium on personal safety, knowledge of current events, and entertainment. A consumer can have all of these inside of a car. The manager of Engine Insights, Eric Corliss, says, “This new survey reveals key trends driven by the pandemic, including the rise in the importance of both the personal vehicle and in-dash infotainment, as well as a change in the kind of content listened to in-vehicle,”

The good thing for dealers is that this should be a clear signal to increased sales. The latest inventory issues related to chips would also prioritize pre-owned, late model car sales.

But does it mean that all age and income brackets are looking to purchase? Not necessarily. In particular, it seems like Millennials and Gen Z are going to be the biggest movers. “We were particularly struck by some of the demographic data: for example, that Millennials value radio in the dashboard so highly, with 78 percent saying it is indispensable and that households with children are most likely to find their vehicle more important today (and to view it as a place of refuge). Also, that these demos, along with Gen Z, are the most likely to place greater importance on dashboard entertainment/information today versus pre-COVID,” said Corliss.  

Marketing through radio is still a viable option

During these times where every day brings a new development or news of a crisis, and since commute times are getting longer and longer, radio will reach your market – provided you have the right message.  

Your message should be what they care about

At first, this sounds elementary. However, “care about” has more to do with the seven fundamental values that millennials care about most. Cause marketing is a significant driver since around 50% of millennials prefer to purchase from a brand if their dedicated purchase supports a cause. Think Subaru Loves Pets. Pets Love Us. Supporting causes works. And you’ll find out what works for you by doing research. 

Social media is crucial

The success mantra was once, “Location, location, location.” Today, as it pertains to reaching your market, the word should be “social media.” If you haven’t turned up your YouTube channel and social media channels, you’re missing out. If you have someone working on your TikTok reel or have a vlog, you’re ahead of the pack.

At least half of your target market uses social media to receive support, air complaints, or search for information. And their using multiple platforms, which means more strategy for you and diversification of message. Microsoft conducted a study showing that 47% of Millennials use social media to register complaints about a brand’s services. If you only used social listening, then you’d be further along than where you are now. The critical part of marketing is to engage your most profitable segment and change them into evangelists for your product. Since the growth market of Gen Z and Millennials needing the safety of a personal vehicle, social media should be a path for your sales success.  

What’s Next

Just like a good football quarterback who throws where the receiver is going to be, you’ll need to review your marketing to speak to where your market is going to be. It will require you to think a bit more of the future, but you’ll have a plan. It’s a struggle to stay up on current trends and even more challenging to predict the future. However, if you know your audience, then grab a social media strategist and get to work. Buyers are coming your way, and you don’t want to miss them.

Did you enjoy this article from Steve Mitchell? Read other articles on CBT News here. Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic by submitting a letter to the editor here, or connect with us at

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date or catch-up on all of our podcasts on demand.

While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest auto industry news from CBT News.