Insights on Super Commuters

Authored by Lisa Joy Rosner | CMO

Super Commuters Have Joined an Ever-Growing Club

Commuting to work is worse than ever. Data from the Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey indicate that the average commute has passed 26.4 minutes. It also showed a big jump—8% in the number of people with extreme commutes. So it’s not surprising that we found a population of “super commuters”—which we define as people who spend two or more hours per day getting to and from work—in our recent survey of connected car owners and new car buyers. In this post, I’ll share some ways that super commuters differ from their brethren with shorter commutes (or no commute at all!).

Educated Technology Adopters

In our survey population of 1,070 adult connected car owners and drivers who plan to buy a car in the next year, 142 drivers indicated that they have a commute of one hour or longer. 61% of these drivers have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 52% of our survey respondents as a whole. And 25% have household income over $100,000. These are very connected people:

  • 94% own an Internet-connected Smart TV, an Internet-connected watch, a voice-enabled smart speaker, or a fitness/ activity tracker, compared with 78% of the survey population overall
  • 29% own an Internet-connected watch and 50% plan to purchase one in the next year, compared with 14% and 25%, respectively, of the survey population overall
  • 96% own a smartphone, and 80% plan to purchase a new one in the next year, compared with 65% of the survey population overall
  • 55% plan to purchase a new television, versus 47% of the survey population overall

Just over 75% of super commuters plan to purchase a new car in the next year, about the same number as their non-super commuter peers. However, super commuters are already driving newer vehicles: 50% have a primary car that’s a 2015 or newer model year, compared to 43% of our survey population as a whole.

Infotainment Rocks for Super Commuters

With their newer vehicles, 55% of super commuters have an in-dash infotainment system. And they use their infotainment systems a lot – 90% say they use it most or all of the time, compared with 70% of the survey population as a whole. We also found that more super commuters have invested in SiriusXM Satellite Radio; 31% have an account, compared to just 17% of our survey population as a whole. 22% use SiriusXM for traffic reports; while just under half rely on traditional AM/FM radio and 24% rely on an app on their mobile devices (about the same percentage as our survey population as a whole).

Super Commuters Stay Connected

One might think that super commuters have little time to spend on social media, but somehow they must find a way. 74% use social media apps/ websites several times a day, and 19% use them about once a day. Here is some data on which platforms they used in the last week:

41% have a ridesharing app installed on their phones, versus 32% of our survey population overall. And I was interested to see that about twice as many have dating apps installed on their phones—16%, compared to 8% of the survey population as a whole. I guess they need to be efficient with their personal time!

Demand for Connected Car Services Maps to Other Drivers

Super commuters expressed slightly more interest in services that are already available in cars, such as using voice for calling or texting, to get directions, or to find nearby restaurants. We also saw slightly more interest in new services that would use connected car data to improve safety, convenience, and the driving experience in general. Where we saw a bigger difference is in that more of these weekday road warriors said they would be willing to share their anonymous or personal data in order to get the services in which they had expressed interest. The differences were bigger with respect to services that require personal data—a bigger commitment—than anonymous data. The one exception, interestingly, came in their willingness to share personal data to receive discounted insurance rates.

These results may reflect a generally greater willingness to share personal data among super commuters, who are also on social media more than non-super commuters. When we asked super commuters if they ever allow apps to collect anonymous data through the app, such as location, 64% yes, compared with 54% of our survey population as a whole. (It’s also possible that super commuters are simply more aware of what data they do share. We discuss this in more detail in the report on our survey, which you can download here.

Super Commuters’ Attitudes Reflect Their Lives on the Road

Super commuters’ driving habits shape their attitudes about technology in cars—and about cars themselves. They are more likely to agree that it’s important to have the latest technology in their cars and that technology makes it more fun to drive/ be a passenger in a car.

They are also a bit more likely to say that their car reflects who they are.

What Can We Learn About Super Commuters?

Super commuters may have very little time to themselves outside their cars, but they’re a tech-savvy, connected group of drivers.  For the most part, they are willing to share their data in order to get connected car capabilities that will improve their time on the road. And expect them to learn about these new capabilities from their friends on social media, or maybe through their smart speakers or other gadgets.


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