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Are consumers ready to embrace the connected home?

The connected home – a place where we can control all our gadgets using our mobile phone. We get that it will save us time and money, eventually, but there is no doubt that the high initial cost and general consumer scepticism is holding the industry back.

Whether it’s your heating, lighting, television, music, front door locks or even your kettle, 2017 is set to be the year that we start connecting our homes.

After a little bit of a stumble into the market in 2016, it’s understandable that there is a huge difference of opinion as to whether or not mainstream consumers will adopt this next gen technology.

Connected homes are built on a triangle of affordability, reliability, and usability. Until all these three elements are robustly balanced, the general public will remain sceptical.

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We look at three things brands should be doing to ensure they get the consumer on board if they want mainstream adoption of their product in the connected home:

1. Gain trust

We already know that consumers are cynical folk. Especially when it comes to forking out a lot of money for something that doesn’t really appear bring much gratification.

The affordability element of the triangle is key.

Just this month we have seen SSE come under fire when a technical hitch meant their smart meters wrongly told customers a day’s energy will cost them thousands of pounds. Not the best start to the Government agenda to ensure all homes have a smart meter by 2020.

Trust will be instrumental in transitioning early adopters. Without this, your average family will not even look at a smart lock, smart control or smart appliance, let alone buy; as much as you would like them to.

2. Empower customers

Smart brands engaging in the smart home phenomenon have a product and a value proposition that embraces people to help boost the trust in the connected home industry.

The industry is rapidly moving from the age of uncertainty to the age of enlightenment. Consumers get that they have more and more power in the palm of their hands through their mobile devices.

The reliability element of the triangle is pivotal to convey empowerment.

By focussing on storytelling and honing in on emotional content, you make a more immersive connection with the consumer and they start to better understand how moving to a connected home will benefit them.

You must also remember that not every consumer understands technology; so understanding their relationship with technology is vital. Keep it simple, seamless and convenient and you quickly get buy-in from the consumer and boost adoption rates.

3. Make it seamless

For the mass market to fully embrace the connected home, it must really do what it says on the tin and be ‘connected’.

The usability element of the triangle is the easiest to take advantage of.

As examples of clever, convenient and intuitive integration platforms – like Amazon Alexa -  become more mainstream, there is further reinforcement of the trend of connected commerce. Having a deep understanding of the evolution of this technology will be vital.

A device and platform that is gimmicky will burn out fast, whereas a device that solves a real problem (like Alexa) will have longevity.

But whatever technology you embrace, it must be seamless and must work for the people. Service providers need to establish how their connected solution can work well with other providers to ensure their solution works for the consumer and becomes their long-term companion in the connected home journey.

Richard Branson once said ‘you don’t learn to walk by following the rules, you learn by doing and by falling over’. Connected home providers are sharing this experience. Some are creating their own rules and some are tripping over. But if they look to create more seamless and integrated platforms, they will take less of a knock and start being embraced by a larger customer base at a running speed.

And just when connected home providers think they have this bit under control, the next challenge pops up. The sheer number of devices is growing so rapidly, with newbies such as augmented and virtual reality further disrupting the market, the challenge to truly understand how new technology can help create an immersive connection today, and well into the future, becomes almost unimaginable. That’s when collaboration, partnering with an expert to help you navigate through this minefield, comes into its own.

Sophie Beckley, Planner 

Talk to Sophie about how we can help you create an immersive connection with your customers - 01902 714 957 sophie.beckley@connect-group.com