Skip to main content


In-Vehicle Personalization Isn’t Fuzzy Dice Anymore

Road Trip With My Best Friend

Personalization in the automotive industry is something that every OEM is actively thinking about and working on right now – and I’ve covered this trend in its most birds-eye view form when it comes to personalization at scale. With new technology such as AI and machine learning accelerating, it is table stakes for OEMs to prioritize personalization. Today, I am not going to discuss customer or lifetime value journeys, but a different take on personalization: in-vehicle personalization and experiences between vehicles.

Vehicles Become an Extension of Their Drivers

Vehicle owners and drivers have always had a desire to customize their vehicles, but until about a decade ago, this customization was made possible mainly through in-vehicle accessories, custom wheels, creative decals, and unique paint jobs. When I was a kid, I dreamed of a 1964 Mustang in a sparkling purple with a soft white top. These aftermarket products and services created a personalized exterior that gave owners an opportunity to say something about themselves beyond make and model.

The interior options also offered a bespoke makeover with steering wheel covers, pedals, and ornaments of many styles and colors, making the vehicle stand out in a crowd. However, there were fewer opportunities at the time for infotainment or electronic display customization. Hence, the personalization focus fell short with just aftermarket audio hardware and simple radio station presets. This early approach, however, was foundational and serves to demonstrate that consumers have always had a strong desire for personalization. Customers want to have their individual preferences recognized and their identities accentuated through their possessions.

The Modern Customer Demands Functionality and Convenience

The transformation from “nice to have” to expected functionality and convenience is largely due to a significant shift in consumer expectations. This change can be traced to the introduction and commoditization of smartphones, which allow a high degree of personalized content and services through app stores. Furthermore, Cloud-based services are setting the expectation for cross-device portability of customized profiles and content. Again, we are following the trends and expectations of the consumers.

What Does Automotive Personalization Look Like Tomorrow?

Looking at automotive trends, the “next big thing” with a direct effect on the user experience is the increase in personalization – namely, in two areas:

  1. The first area allows features and services to be personalized to the driver or user in the vehicle, and not to the car itself. This feature is a “nice to have” in current ownership models, but quickly becomes a necessity when thinking of shared vehicles, expanded mobility, and shared autonomous vehicles.
  2. The second area is the transferability and portability of settings and preferences across multiple devices and platforms, allowing for a consistent and seamless user experience. This feature is the one that views the connected vehicle as another device. These capabilities can range from the ability to set simple user profiles to leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to acquire knowledge of the user’s habits and preferences.

All of this creates a few significant shifts:

  1. Creating transferable portfolios that are linked to Cloud-based user profiles, allowing consumers to carry their preferences across vehicles as well as have multiple profiles per vehicle
  2. Learning consumer habits by leveraging AI and machine learning to understand driver habits and preferences, including contextual information gleaned from personal calendars and navigation behavior, and attaching them to the customer profiles

These modern capabilities in personalization are only the beginning as things continue to evolve. We will begin to see connected vehicles and in-vehicle purchases as well. Vehicles are not becoming devices – they are devices. In the future of automotive, the consumer is at the center of everything, and their preferences and expectations will continue to evolve and drive us.

Implement next-level personalization with our strategic position on automotive personalization, and tap into Perficient’s automotive expertise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Keith Tomatore

A long-time senior executive in the auto industry who has held the position of SVP, Retail Marketing at Global Team Blue (GTB, a WPP Company) on the Ford Retail Business. In this role, Keith worked with the Ford Dealer Associations across the country to help them with their Precision Marketing and digital efforts. Also, he served as CEO of iFrog Marketing Solutions, which focused on Automotive advertising solutions for Tier 2 and Tier 3.

More from this Author

Follow Us