Aug 17, 2007

Consumers willing to pay more for branded automotive surround-sound systems, says J.D. Power

Westlake Village, California – A new study by J.D. Power and Associates indicates that among consumers who indicate they are “highly interested” in having a premium surround-sound system in their next vehicle, more than 80 per cent are willing to pay twice the average market price for a branded system.

The study found that the majority of consumers interested in such a system are willing to pay an average of US$1,000 for a branded system, which is twice the suggested market price. In general, interest in audio-related features is high among consumers, with 60 per cent saying they are interested in a system capable of playing multiple audio formats. Additionally, at a market price of US$100, 50 per cent of consumers are interested in a USB interface, and 43 per cent are interested in an iPod interface, at a market price of US$150.

“It’s interesting to note that while interest in premium surround sound is somewhat higher among younger consumers, the feature still garners relatively high interest among consumers of all ages,” says Mike Marshall, director of automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power and Associates. “With some other features, there is a considerable gap in interest between younger and older consumers, and the gap for premium surround sound is notably smaller. Given its universal appeal, auto manufacturers are well positioned to offer premium surround sound systems across all of their vehicle models, as opposed to targeting a specific vehicle segment or model line.”

Among features examined in the study, rear-entertainment systems, in-vehicle Internet and wireless connectivity yield the largest gaps in interested between younger and older consumers, prior to them knowing the price.

The study also found that many safety-related technologies continue to garner higher interest levels from consumers, including two-stage smart airbags, backup assist and run-flat tires.

Once average market prices are revealed, the study found that rear-seat entertainment systems (US$1,500) and collision mitigation systems (US$1,750) received the lowest interest levels of all emerging technologies; they are also among the most expensive features examined in the study. Other technologies with low interest after the price is revealed are lane departure warning systems and in-vehicle Internet.

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