Opportunities Exist For Brands In the Autonomous Space

Opportunities Exist For Brands In the Autonomous Space
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In this guest post, iProspect’s general manager Tom White (pictured below) argues that advances in technology are there to be exploited by savvy brands…

How old were you when you realised James Bond had lied to you? For me it was a fairly recent discovery, when I re-watched Tomorrow Never Dies where a brand-new BMW is driven around an aircraft hangar, guided by nothing more than a remote control on a pre-smartphone smartphone. And I realised that growing up, this was my expectation for the future of all cars.

 

Disappointingly though, James Bond had lied (and not just about the cars – but that’s another story) – the cars I drive today still require me to be in full control. However earlier this year, whilst in an Uber, I had my first experience of autonomous driving thanks to the Tesla Model S (still not sure how I managed to get a Tesla for my Uber, but no complaints here).

Although the Tesla wasn’t fully autonomous, the driver turning around to chat to me in the back, whilst changing lanes, on a corner, in a tunnel, with no hands on the wheel, gave me a good first view of what the future really looks like. And although he probably shouldn’t have done that, this did get me thinking about what the opportunity for an innovation like this is for non-automotive brands.

If drivers can now turn around for a chat, surely this is a game changer, not just in the automotive sense, but also when it comes to products and entertainment.

Why? Take a look around your home. The developer has most likely made a good amount of money building your property, but not everything inside was made or sold by them. Your home is just the context and surroundings for all your belongings – an opportunity that thousands of brands use to make revenue.

The autonomous car is really no different.

Think about it; you’ve finished work and are driving home. In today’s car, you might be singing along to Spotify or shouting at the radio, but your attention is mostly focused on the road, and the people and vehicles around you …as it should be.

Now take away the driving aspect. As a passenger, are you watching the road the whole time? Probably not – there’s likely something else taking up your attention: a phone, a book, or the scenery as it passes by.

When you’re in a self-driving car, will you still sit there and watch the road? To start with maybe, just until you become comfortable with it. But confidence in the car being able to get you to your destination safely, will slowly become the norm, and then what? How will you pass the time?

If you’ve got an hour-long commute, you might want to sit and listen to the radio for the duration, or, you might feel like finishing off that presentation, leading a video conference, or god forbid, doing your timesheets.

What if you’re heading home to watch Thursday night footy but got kept a little later? Rather than your mates sending videos you’ll watch when you get home, you could hop into your car/vehicular living room, turn on the Foxtel box connected to your connected TV, get yourself some chips, and sit back and enjoy.

And how about that six-hour road trip to the Snowy Mountains with your mates – no picnic, especially if you’re the one driving. But what if you could sit back, chuck on a film, or continue that FIFA tournament you’re all sure you’re going to win? And if you wanted to have a drink or two along the way, you could just reach over to that fridge in the corner…

The world today is changing at an astounding pace, and every new product or invention brings with it a whole host of new opportunities for brands, especially in places they may have historically overlooked. 75 million new cars were sold worldwide in 2019, and with the way the population is growing, this number will most likely rise. That’s one big opportunity.

Because who wouldn’t be looking into buying an autonomous car if it could do the whole journey to work safely? Who wants to keep staring at the car in front for hours on end, if they didn’t have to?

So, for brands, the time is now. We need to start thinking about how our products could be a game changer in this space. The attention economy has shown that there are more players vying for eyeballs than ever before, so we need be that top-of-mind brand or product that everyone wants for their car, and own the space before someone else does. Otherwise, we’ll be left with whatever the 1997 007 dreamt up. And let’s face it, he’s no Daniel Craig.

 

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