Smart Home Technology Believed to Have a Positive Impact on Everyday Life

Amanda Gassé for Zondits, December 3, 2015. Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Big names like Google and Amazon are making smart home technology mainstream with gadgets like Nest and Amazon Echo. The newest products are simplifying tasks, making better use of resources, and adding a level of convenience to the way we live. New research from the market research giant GfK backs up this trend, stating that consumers around the world believe that adopting new smart home technology is impacting their lives more than leading-edge wearable technology. GfK’s poll found that 53% of participants find energy and lighting control gadgets and applications the most appealing. Programs like Pearl Certification now allow homeowners and real estate agents to verify and document the impact of energy efficiency improvements on the value of homes on the market. The results indicate that homeowners installing devices like Nest are reaping the benefits of increased home values. As technology continues to develop and become increasingly connected, research from GfK will help guide developers to understand consumer preferences and the factors that will drive demand.

Smart Home Beats Wearables for Impact on Lives, say Consumers

MarketWatch, November 11, 2015

New GfK research shows that half of people internationally believe smart home technology will make an impact on their lives in the next few years, compared to just a third who say the same for wearables.

The study, which covered seven countries, asked consumers to choose which of 11 leading-edge technologies – from 3D printing to augmented/virtual reality to Internet of Things – would have an impact on their lives in the next few years. (Respondents could choose as many technologies as they wished.)
Data is currently released for Brazil, USA, UK, Germany and South Korea (China and Japan to follow) – and the results indicate a strong international interest in smart home technology, with just over half (51 percent) of consumers backing it. This is well ahead of the third (33 percent) of people who believe wearables will impact their lives, and on a level with mobile payments (54 percent).

The full study, which is available for purchase as in-depth country reports, also looked at what each country’s consumers want from smart home technology, their preferred suppliers, and the main barriers hindering uptake.

Top five smart home applications

Internationally, the areas of smart home technology applications that have greatest appeal for consumers are ‘security and control’ and ‘energy or lighting’ (55 percent and 53 percent respectively), while ‘entertainment and connectivity’ comes third (48 percent). ‘Health’ and ‘smart appliances’ are neck and neck in fourth place at 43 percent each. But when it comes to the different countries, this broad picture shows strong national variations – such as the appeal of security and control which stands at over a third (38 percent) in the UK, but over a half (54 percent) in the USA and South Korea.

Barriers to adopting smart home technology

There is similar national variation in the barriers that consumers feel are holding them back from acquiring smart home products. The leading issues across all countries are price, with over a third of people overall quoting this as a barrier, followed by privacy concerns (will my home be hacked?), cited by a quarter. But while that’s the international trend, in the UK, the second highest barrier cited is lack of knowledge, not privacy – while in Brazil it’s poor internet connection.

Ranj Dale, GfK’s head of technology research in the UK and manager of the smart home study, comments, “We’re seeing interesting national variations in practically all the areas we looked at – whether it’s the level of appeal that the various smart home areas have in different markets, or the perceived barriers to adoption or the preference for single or multiple suppliers. It’s very much a case that each market has its own specific response to, and requirements for, smart home technology. Our research is already helping our clients understand international demand for smart home technology and what specific factors will drive that demand – as well as how to fine tune their approach within each market.”

Preferred smart home suppliers

When it came to consumers’ preference on whom they trust to supply their smart home technology, 45 percent wanted a single vendor to provide everything – most likely in the desire for simplicity and a single ecosystem – while 29 percent favored having a range of vendors. But even here there are national differences. For example, while consumers in most countries favor a utility supplier to provide the energy or lighting aspect of their smart home, South Korean consumers much prefer an electronics manufacturer for this aspect.

About the survey

GfK interviewed over 7,000 adults aged 16 and over in Germany, UK, USA, Brazil, South Korea, China and Japan, with interviews conducted online. Respondents were recruited to be nationally representative of online users in each market. Fieldwork was carried out in September and October 2015.