Smart homes have the edge over wearables

20th November 2015
Joe Bush

According to the latest research from GfK, smart home technology is set to make a significantly greater impact on the lives of consumers than wearables. The study covered seven countries and 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 has been released for Brazil, US, 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%) of consumers backing it. This is well ahead of the third (33%) of people who believe wearables will impact their lives, and on a level with mobile payments (54%).

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 the greatest appeal for consumers are ‘security and control’ and ‘energy or lighting’ (55% and 53% respectively), while ‘entertainment and connectivity’ comes third (48%). ‘Health’ and ‘smart appliances’ are neck and neck in fourth place at 43% each. However, 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%) in the UK, but over a half (54%) in the US 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. However, 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, commented, “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% wanted a single vendor to provide everything – most likely in the desire for simplicity and a single ecosystem - while 29% favoured having a range of vendors. However, even here there are national differences. For example, while consumers in most countries favour 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.

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