March 5-6, 2019

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AI You Can Drive My Car: Consumer Emotion, Identity and the Future of Self-driving Vehicles

Self-driving cars are undeniably the future. With billions spent on technology and thousands of cars with varying autonomous capabilities already on the road, where do consumers fit in? Those fickle humans who will actually purchase, ride in and share the road with these vehicles?

In this session, CMB’s VP of Tech and Telecom Chris Neal will share the results of a consumer study exploring the emerging category of self-driving cars to guide the industry towards more widespread acceptance.

Going well beyond the typical examination of functional benefits, this research leverages a consumer psychology framework to understand the emotional and social identity benefits and attributes that will drive or deter greater acceptance and adoption of this category.

Using an online quantitative survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers, as well as ethnography and in-depth interviews, we identified the sub-segments of the adult U.S. population that have different reactions to and perceptions of a range of assisted and autonomous driving scenarios (e.g., commuting to work, ride-sharing services with self-driving vehicles, running errands, road trips).

Presentation type:

  • Research Report

Subjects covered:

  • Behavioral economics
  • Customer experience
  • Hybrid/mixed methods (qualitative, quant, mobile, SM)
  • Emotional measurement (neuroscience/eye-tracking)
  • Ethnographic/observational research


  1. The psychological benefits that brands in this and other disrupted categories must provide to drive consideration and engagement.
  2. Why a focus on functional benefits won’t be enough to drive adoption.
  3. The specific positive and negative reactions to top scenarios that can sway consumer segments into embracing this new mode of transport in the future and to help navigate the inevitable potholes.


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