Breaking: Volkswagen Study Shows Young People Use Facebook

September 23, 2010

Volkswagen and MTV Networks have just wrapped up a study about young people, driving, and technology. The study reveals that 14-to-29 year-olds (a demographic dubbed "digital natives") spend a significant chunk of their time on social networks like Facebook and that they would "like to see networking extend to the car". We thought that fact was already pretty well established, but we suppose someone had to do a study to prove it.

The study, entitled "MePublic -- A Global Study on Social Media Youth", surveyed 26,000 young people in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. While the general findings aren't terribly surprising, they do reveal some interesting cultural differences in the way that youth around the globe use the web and social media: "In Japan, for example, 40 percent of the young people primarily use mobile access to their social network. While 57 percent in the USA use online sources prior to buying a car, only 38 percent do so in Japan. The young people there prefer to seek advice direct from the dealer." That sort of information could prove very useful to automakers, software developers, and marketers down the road.

Less interesting -- from our perspective, anyway -- is Volkswagen's announcement that it is developing in-car apps to respond to the study's findings. Sure, it's great that VW is moving forward on the tech front, but at this point, the automaker is playing catch-up to Ford, GM, and nearly every other car company. As an example, check this gem from VW's press release:

At the event presenting the study, Volkswagen provided a taste of the future of in-car internet radio in the current Polo GTI: A music streaming service generates personalized music programs from the user’s favorite songs. Internet podcasts can be downloaded in this way, too, easily transforming the car into a mobile information center. Given ever-faster transmission speeds in the mobile communications sector, this service could soon become reality.

Surely someone in Germany has heard of Pandora, right? Right?

There are a few more funny bits in the press release below, but even so, we're happy to see VW throw its alpen hat into the ring. More developers means better tech, we hope.

* * * * *

Volkswagen and MTV Networks present “MePublic” social media study

  • Over 26,000 young people interviewed worldwide
  • Study includes user typology and marketing recommendations for companies in social web

Berlin/Wolfsburg, 22 September 2010 - Volkswagen and MTV Networks today presented “MePublic – A Global Study on Social Media Youth”. The international study gives an insight into media use and value concepts among the group of 14-to 29-year-olds known as “digital natives”. As the study shows, the young people would also like to see networking extend to the car. A trend to which Volkswagen is responding by developing various apps. 

“With just under 500,000 fans on Facebook and over ten million visitors on YouTube since the company profile was set up at the end of 2008, Volkswagen already has one of the largest fan communities in the automotive industry. And together with our fans we are breaking new ground in the social web – as confirmed by the recent “App my Ride” competition where we gave prizes to the best developments for applications in car infotainment systems,” Luca de Meo, Volkswagen Group’s Marketing Head, said at the study presentation event. “Our aim is to gain an even better understanding of young people and their motivation with regard to social media, so that we can inspire them for the Volkswagen brand and its products. The integration of young target groups in the development of social media application products is both contemporary and forward-looking,” de Meo added.

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