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Futuresource Consulting Finds Smart Home Device Owners Want More

The smart home is poised to emerge by stealth as consumers who install their first device will be keen on automating further, according to the latest Futuresource consumer research.

Consumer research by Futuresource Consulting reveals that almost 1 in 3 consumers live in homes where at least one smart home device has been installed. Over 4,000 consumers in France, Germany, UK and USA were surveyed on smart home devices, appliance ownership, perceptions and purchase intent. Voice Personal Assistant (VPA) speakers were included, looking at both current and future adoption.

The report provides a snapshot of the smart home market by segmenting the respondents into different levels of smart home adoption: non-adopters, the beginners, intermediate and advanced users. This is based on the number of smart home devices installed in their homes. It also digs deeper by drawing out behavioural traits for each segment in respect to their own use of smart home technologies.

Among the 4 countries surveyed, the USA showed the highest smart home penetration, with 38% of respondents claiming to be living in a home with at least one smart home device installed. In Germany, respondents seem more resistant to the idea of adopting smart home devices, as only 1 in 5 have installed at least one smart home device in their home.

Filipe Oliveira, Analyst at Futuresource Consulting commented, “Smart lighting and smart thermostats are among the most popular smart home devices and are common first steps into the smart home. However, it is home security that more respondents report as the first smart home device that they have installed. Products that fall under climate control are growing but our survey revealed that this is a fragmented category with relatively low levels of brand recognition, a challenge to manufacturers in this field.”

According to this latest report for the entertainment driven consumers, audio and video content is often the first step into automation in the home. Two in three respondents considered music and other audio/video content to be important in the context of the smart home.

“The results provide evidence that the smart home can grow by stealth as users who installed one device are more likely to want to automate their homes further,” continued Oliveira. “Across all segments, 30% of consumers expect to control more of their homes wirelessly in the near future. However, the number is substantially higher among those who already own at least one smart home device, with 89% of advanced users expecting to control more of their homes wirelessly in the next 6-12 months, the report breaks this down for each segment.”

The consumer research also looks into the smart home as a service provision. Consumers who had their smart home devices installed via the subscription of a service – from their energy provider, telecom or security provider – are satisfied with the service and an overwhelming majority of respondents claim to plan to renew their subscriptions.

VPA speakers can be another important driver of smart home adoption. The most common use of the devices is music streaming. However, a substantial number of respondents claimed to use their VPA speakers for a number of home automation purposes such as controlling the heating or the lighting. Respondents were also enquired about what uses they plan to give to their VPA speakers in the future.

Almost a third of respondents claim to have received their VPA speaker as a gift. Bundling seems to be another retail opportunity as a small but not negligible number of consumers report that they acquired their smart home devices bundled with a VPA speaker.

Despite long replacement cycles, consumers are open to the idea of buying a smart appliance next time they need to replace their washing machine or refrigerator. Another hindrance to smart appliance expansion is declining consumer interest in some smart appliance features. “Appliance manufacturers will need to find ways to stimulate consumer interest again. Priority should be given to features where the benefits are clear, preferably those that increase safety or allow for money savings,” added Oliveira.

Despite these barriers, Futuresource believes that the outlook for uptake is very healthy with products ranging from speakers to refrigerators proliferating households in the coming years, turning our homes into smart homes.

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