Chances are that your child wanted a smartphone before you; they probably also pleaded for a Netflix subscription, a tablet, and had several social media accounts well before you had even heard of them. Frustratingly, they also knew how to use them without having to resort to any instructions. Our children know more than us about technology, we rely on them to hear about the latest tech, and their opinion is valued in our purchasing decisions. This is the stark reality of tech adoption nowadays and it’s something that retailers must consider when marketing the next concept tipped to revolutionise our lives: the smart home.
Our European research into consumers’ attitudes towards the smart home revealed that in the UK, Amazon is leading the way in terms of consumer trust: 80 percent of those surveyed would consider buying smart home products from the e-commerce giant. BT came in second with 76 percent opting for the telecoms provider as their would-be smart home retailer of choice. Specialist technology retailer Maplin scored third highest at 60 percent. Traditional retailers such as Currys PC World, John Lewis, and Argos lagged below, convincing only half of our respondents that they would make the most appropriate choice for buying connected home products.
So how can retailers persuade the public that they’re the natural place to shop for smart home products? They need to recognise that to sell the smart home, their approach needs to change. It’s not a matter of targeting one family member, but the whole family. And it’s not just pushing one device, it’s selling the smart lifestyle. French and German retailers such as Lick! and MediaMarkt, are examples of retailers who have adapted their approach and are reaping the benefits.
Imagine that you’re about to leave the office to head home. You know your children arrived back from school just after 5pm as your smart security camera recognised their faces, signalled to the smart door lock to let them into the house, and sent an alert to you and your partner. You left dinner in the oven this morning, and you can now remotely set the oven to slowly heat up the food. You’re also dying for a cup of tea, and set your kettle to turn on when it sees you’re within five minutes of the house. The children are happy as they don’t have to lift a finger. Once the evening is over and your eyelids are getting heavy, one of you wishing your smart home hub a ‘good night’ will mean your house is secured, all unnecessary lights and switches are turned off, and you’re ready to head to bed.
The above lesson is that which most of the retailers are missing. Retailers haven’t yet acknowledged that getting the whole family excited about the concept will be a much more powerful accomplishment than convincing any one family member. Instead of trying to target a lone gadget-lover, they should instead be educating consumers that the smart home can make everyone in the family’s lives easier. The ancient ‘boys and their toys’ stereotype also needs to be forgotten; in fact, our research showed that 65 percent of the UK consumers prepared to spend over £5,000 on the smart home are women. You also need the children to be on board. After all, as the home’s resident tech experts, it will most likely fall to them to find out how best to use the devices. Add to that an explanation of how having a smart home can improve your property’s value, and soon you should have everyone convinced that a connected house is an enticing concept.
Our advice to retailers is clear: create stores or spaces within your stores where shoppers can play with the devices and see the concept come alive will pay many more dividends than the products just sitting on a shelf. Similarly, get your staff excited about the smart home. If retailers boost their teams’ technical knowledge, not only will the concept become more easily sold to consumers, but there’ll be more commercial opportunities in technical support, installation, and insurance. Finally, know the power of the family. Remember that it’s not just going to be one person living in the smart home, so everyone needs to be excited about, and buy into, the concept.