If you think back on family road trips you took as a kid, you might remember playing the “license plate game” to pass the time, but you probably also remember long stretches of boredom and maybe squabbling with a sibling in the back seat. Lucky for today’s parents, connected devices have enabled more options for keeping children entertained on long car rides, resulting in heightened interest in in-car connectivity.

Mintel’s recent report on US mobile network providers found that three quarters of parents with at least one child under 18 in the household said they were interested in a separate mobile connection for their car, compared to 58% of all consumers. Two in five parents said they would be willing to pay for such a service. US mobility providers have recognized that parents are a key market for their connected car solutions and are getting more creative with the ways they position these products for families.

AT&T smartly targeted parents with its in-car WiFi during a multi-channel marketing effort last summer, featuring happy kids who “didn’t want the car ride to end” as they watched video or played games on a tablet or phone. More recently, AT&T upgraded its unlimited plans to make it even easier for parents to add a line of data for their cars to their unlimited family plan. The Unlimited Choice and Unlimited Plus Family Plans allow for connecting up to eight additional devices to the plan, including Connected Car.

Safety innovations geared toward parents

Of course, turning the car into a WiFi hotspot is just one piece of the connected car value proposition that would appeal to parents. Mobility providers are also offering peace of mind with roadside assistance and/or vehicle diagnostics. Mintel’s New Cars US 2016 report found that adults with kid(s) under 18 at home were far more likely to be willing to pay for roadside assistance than those without children under 18 living at home.

tmobileIn a best-case scenario, a connected car product might offer in-car WiFi, vehicle diagnostics and roadside assistance, which T-Mobile and Verizon have recently clued in on. T-Mobile, the latest carrier to enter the connected car space, recently announced a partnership with Allstate to provide Allstate Motor Club Roadside Assistance to its SyncUp DRIVE subscribers. This feature was added to existing hotspot functionality and vehicle diagnostics/tracking already included in the SyncUp DRIVE service. In email marketing efforts to existing customers, T-Mobile featured the Allstate roadside assistance as a key selling point for SyncUP DRIVE. According to Mintel ePerformance/eDataSource, these emails, with a subject line reading “Your car has something to say,” had a higher-than-average read rate of 34% (well above the wireless industry average read rate of 23%), suggesting an interest among recipients for car-related communications.

verizon2Verizon restructured its Hum connected vehicle service in March, introducing a premium tier of service called HumX, which added hotspot functionality to its existing Hum service (now called Hum+), which included Pinpoint Roadside Assistance, speed and boundary alerts, vehicle diagnostics, maintenance alerts and more. Verizon’s customers also showed an interest in emails related to their car. Recent Verizon Hum email subject lines read, “The 2017 must-have for your car” and achieved an average read rate of 35%, according to Mintel ePerformance.

These services, enabled by plugging a device into a vehicle’s diagnostic port, are certainly having their day in the sun. Eventually, all cars will be manufactured with built-in cellular connectivity, which will continue to benefit mobility providers, as they will supply the connections for these vehicles. In the meantime, we’ll continue to observe a flurry of marketing for these aftermarket products that will help parents keep kids safe and entertained in the car.

Emily Groch is Mintel Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications. She provides omni-channel marketing analysis and competitive insights to wireless, TV, internet, over-the-top, and home security service providers across the US and Canada.

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