With technology embedded in much of our daily lives, it’s no surprise that more and more items are being outfitted with built-in connectivity. Consumers’ adoption of internet-enabled devices isn’t a given, however, and it’s worth exploring why acceptance has been so fragmented across categories—as well as what the industry can do to accelerate usage.
With technology becoming synonymous with convenience, lackluster adoption could be surprising to some. But when you look deeper, the reasons become clearer. For example, smart homes are becoming more common, but they still have a ways to go before they become mainstream. Why? In a recent study that looked at connected home trends in Canada, we identified two of the biggest barriers to adoption: satisfaction with status quo and not understanding how to use a connected device in everyday life.
So even though 46% of consumers in Canada report owning or intending to own smart tech for their households in the next two years, removing the barriers of adoption among likely and potential users is crucial. And that requires relevant, tailored communication to the different consumer segments in the market. For example, people who plan to buy at least one connected home technology within the next two years would benefit from learning about the convenience and efficiencies that these devices can bring to their lives, whereas consumers who already use at least one connected device might benefit from knowing how multiple connected devices can work together.
Motivations and adoption rates will vary across consumer groups. But catering to consumers’ most important needs, as well as turning barriers into opportunities by understanding their attitudes, lifestyles and key interests, will allow marketers to build better, more targeted campaigns.
The biggest opportunity to influence adoption is when consumers are shopping for a home or when they’re renovating their homes. That’s when consumers are looking for the best deal, the most value for their buck. By showcasing the real value—be it through aesthetics, convenience or peace of mind—these are the prime times to engage and sell. Once consumers adopt the technology and realize the value, it’s easier to persuade connected home technology users to invest in more value-proposed items. It’s crucial to constantly engage with the consumer—creating an environment where the internet of things (IoT, like the smartphone) is an essential partner in everyday life. In order to succeed, brands, retailers and marketers need to deliver on the promise that technology can bring convenience and efficiency to each consumer’s day-to-day routine.
In Canada, 68% of consumers who currently use connected home technology trust legacy brands more than the newer entrants. This puts established brands at a great advantage, but it also places a great sense of responsibility on them as well. Consumers will expect them to take the category forward in terms of innovation, establish its usefulness, and stand out as industry leaders who suggest the right products at “moments of truth” (when consumers are set to make their purchase decisions).
Tech players can take the lead by partnering with technology ambassadors—early adopters and experts in respective categories. This will allow brands to showcase the user experience and ease of adoption. For example, by introducing the lives of technology ambassadors through video blogs, prospective customers could learn about the different applications of connected technology, such as connected ovens, washing machines and dryers, remote video surveillance, lighting control and more. It would also allow viewers to imagine how technology could help ease their lives.
It’s also important for marketers to be aware of consumer age and life stage, predominantly because tech adoption, usage and points of views about IoT vary across generations and age groups. Generally speaking, Millennials are engaged and aware of industry advancements, while Gen X (to some extent) and Baby Boomers take a more cautious approach, often opting to take a “wait and see” approach. These differences pose challenges to the industry in terms of mass adoption, but only because specific uses have not been clearly carved out and explained to each group.
To get ahead of the adoption curve, savvy marketers would be wise to leverage the differences between generations and use IoT so that they can learn from each other. By encouraging engagement between younger and older generations, perhaps through technology forums, younger generations can help pave the path for acceptance among older generations.
We know that Millennials are open to adopting IoT and that Gen Xers are at the right life stage to invest in technology, so why not leverage these attributes to boost interest among Baby Boomers and accelerate adoption. Marketing is key, and how brands establish “acceptance”—what resonates and inspires each segment—will pave the way for future success.
Given the rate at which we’ve embedded technology in our lives, IoT is just the next step in consumer evolution. And at this stage, and many more to come, showcasing the usefulness of new technology is key to in-market success. How brands educate various segments to meet their everyday needs, and energize consumers toward the technology, will ultimately define mass success.