Analysis: Smart Home Tech Adoption
Would you pay $229 to replace your front door deadbolt lock with Smart Lock? How about $200 to trade out your garage door opener for one that you can open and close with your phone?
More often than not, homeowners just aren’t ready to get rid of their perfectly functioning items in favor of the latest and greatest “smart” tech.
While homeowners are becoming more aware of smart home technology, the market is still in its very early adoption stages. Houzz recently released a study on U.S. Smart Home Trends and found the key trigger point for smart home adoption is home renovation. They found almost half (45%) of homeowners added one smart system or device during the course of a renovation. Sure, I may think being able to close my garage door from my bed is cool, but I’m not going to tear out my old one that works just fine for a little added convenience. But, if I’m already replacing my garage door, then I’m OK with ponying up a few extra bucks for the latest and greatest.
That same Houzz study found the average number of smart tech devices before a renovation was just 0.4 units, but increased to a 1.4 average afterward — and 1 in 10 renovated homes has 5 or more smart devices post-renovation. If it needs replacing anyway, I might as well go with the newest technology, right?
And since the power of smart devices lie in the network that they’re a part of, once you buy one, you want to buy more. Controlling my thermostat via my phone is cool, but I’d love to be able to control it with my voice too (as I add Amazon Echo to my shopping list).
Trifecta Research recently presented a segmentation of the “Smart and Connected U.S. Homeowners.” The data was based on a survey among 2,000 homeowners. Three early adoption segments were identified as catalysts to drive growth and greater adoption in the smart home tech category.
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The key to smart home adoption lies in lowering the barrier to entry to that first device.
According to the Houzz Study, homeowners are hesitant to adopt smart technology because of cost, concerns about privacy, lack of technological understanding and concerns about the technology going out of date.
As more and more offerings enter the category, consumers — including early adopters — are confused by the number of choices and uncertain about which brands will ultimately win and stick around. Because the smart home tech category is so diverse — everything from security to entertainment to outdoor lighting — the confusion will only get greater until larger brands capture a broader share of market overall. On top of that, privacy concerns continue to be an adoption barrier in this big data new world of the internet of things.
Not surprisingly, each of the three front-end adopter segments can be well matched with a specific generation of homeowner. Overcoming these adoption barriers may lie in aligning your audience with their location on the adoption curve and their generation.
Personal expression is a driver — and having the latest and greatest tech creates conversation with this highly sociable generation. This is a highly confident group of learners, but they have high expectations around the customer experience. Device set up and interfacing must be intuitive. This is the group most likely to lead adoption as technology emerges, rather than at the renovation trigger point. This segment will also respond to unique features and solutions for new areas of the home like water quality.
This segment is on the go. If it’s not work demands, its attending their kids' many activities or caring for their aging parents. Smart tech that provides convenience — operating from anywhere and ability to pre-program help make that rare downtime at home more rewarding. They shouldn’t need home renovation as a trigger to purchase. In their highest-earning years, smart tech makes a great gift or reward to celebrate milestones. This segment of controllers would also value smart tech for the homes of aging parents as they become widowed and dependent on their children.
Boomers are committed to staying in their homes. This means renovating to properly plan for an accessible and convenient living space. And as they become less mobile and widowed, making it easy to have a secure and safe environment is critical. Often their GenX and older millennial children help them learn and maintain technology in the home and on their phone, helping to convince them of tech adoption. But addressing privacy concerns and offering professional installation and support are key message influencers with this segment.
As the Houzz study suggests, once a homeowner buys their first device, they become a convert and influencer of smart tech for the home. But it starts with the early adopters.
David Sladack is senior vice president, director of channel marketing at BRUNNERWORKS, and leads the agency's Home Enrichment practice.
Readers Respond: Lukewarm on smart thermostats
The overarching narrative of smart home in America is one of gradual acceptance. The early adopters will forever be leading the curve, and it's no different when it comes to smart thermostats.
You would think that mainstream adoption would be moving along at a steady clip now that devices like the Nest Thermostat have been on the market for some time, but the majority of our readers don't seem to think so.
Earlier this week, we asked: "Are 'smart' thermostats a hit among your customers?"
Most — 52% — answered, "there's some interest in them, but only among early adopter types."
Another 32% said "they're collecting dust," and only 15% said "they're flying off the shelves."
What's happening at your store with smart thermostats? Let us know by voting here.