Drivers today have a plethora of options for in-car entertainment, whether playing music from a smartphone or using sophisticated infotainment systems to put the world at occupants' fingertips. While this fancy tech might be a selling point, many consumers struggle to understand how to use it all. In fact, despite the technological advancement, old-school AM/FM radio still reigns supreme on the road for audio listening, and CDs are surprisingly popular, too.

The traditional radio in cars was thought to be on its last legs only a few years ago, but two studies conducted in 2015 by market research firm Ipsos found that drivers haven't decided to switch off just yet. Of those surveyed, 84 percent reported still listening to AM or FM, and 62 percent of people turned it on at least once a day. As further evidence, 67 percent said the radio was their main form of audio listening when behind the wheel.

Perhaps even more surprising, given the rise of music streaming services, is that the CD still remains fairly popular. In the study, 64 percent of respondents still reported using it, and they carried an average of 10.5 CDs in their car. Maybe the long-lived technology can hang on just a little longer in our vehicles.

Meanwhile, streaming services might have a problem finding paying customers. Of those asked, only 29 percent of drivers had a paid subscription for one of these companies, and among the remainder, 80 percent said that they wouldn't want to dish out the cash each month.

Even if buyers are willing to pony up for cutting edge tech, these results suggest that they largely stick with tried and true forms of entertainment once on the road.
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Ipsos Tunes in With Americans: AM/FM Radio Continues to Make Waves in the In-Car Environment

Radio Remains the Preferred Form of Audio Entertainment in the Car, Followed by CDs

Thursday, April 09, 2015

New York, NY – A recent survey by Ipsos once again shows that in the car, Americans prefer radio to CDs or streaming services – and that while countless studies claim that music engagement has evolved as the media landscape has changed, research shows that this definitively does not hold true in the car.

The survey showed that in an in-car environment, 84% of Americans use AM/FM radio as their audio entertainment over new technology options. And they're tuning in frequently – 62% say that they listen to the radio at least once a day in their cars and 67% say they turn on their AM/FM radio as soon as they put on audio in the car. Similarly, in the car, the majority (64%) of Americans still use a CD player, keeping an average of 10.5 CDs in their vehicle. While consumers do seem averse to purchasing new CDs (68% say they have not purchased any new CDs in the last year), only 22% of those who aren't buying new CDs say it's because they are replacing the discs with digital streaming services. Most either don't want any new CDs (27%) or find CDs to be too much money (23%).

Cost seems to be a common thread when it comes to in-car entertainment. While there is only a small population of Americans that stream their in-car audio, less than one-third of those are paying for these services. Of those that use streaming digital audio services but do not pay, 80% say they would not be willing to pay in the future.

"The in-car environment is unlike any other when it comes to media behavior," says Thomas Spinelli, Vice President with Ipsos MediaCT. "Our studies show that despite all the technological advances we've made when it comes to digital listening, the vast majority of Americans still prefer AM/FM radio overall and especially expect it to be a part of their cars – in fact, virtually all said they wouldn't buy a car without a radio."

"We're certainly seeing reluctance amongst Americans to pay for music in the in-car environment," continues Spinelli. "The ability to listen to free music is important to Americans, as is their comfort with their current AM/FM setup. However, as new vehicles roll out, many of which are equipped with built in digital music services, we may see a shift in how Americans are thinking about listening in their cars.

That being said, the overwhelming current popularity of radio illustrates that advertisers and marketers may want to think more buttons and knobs than bells and whistles – at least when it comes to the in-car environment."

This data incorporates results from a previous Ipsos/iHeartMedia online study fielded in January 2015 (sample size of N=1036; US 18+ representative to Census) with new findings from an independent Ipsos Online Omnibus conducted March 18-19, 2015 (sample size of N=1005; US 18+ representative to Census).

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry.

With offices in 87 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media, customer loyalty, marketing, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues €1,669.5 ($2,218.4 million) in 2014.

Visit to learn more about Ipsos' offerings and capabilities.

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