How retailers and brands can educate customers to encourage mass adoption of smart home tech

Nicole Tyquin, marketing communications manager of Connected Home at Swann, discusses IoT trends and how education is needed to help certain aspects of the smart home become mainstream.

The Internet of Things has been a phrase used within the technology industry for many years, however its popularity and move into a more ‘mass market’ arena has only really starting making tracks in the last 2-3 years.

The concept is a great one – equipping all objects with technology that can interact with each other and be controlled remotely resulting in a drastic transformation of the way we go about our daily lives. However, there have been, and still are, barriers to the intrigue in this technology as some people struggle to make sense of it in a practical world.

A recent Gartner Survey found that, although during 2016 IoT will move towards mainstream adoption, 30 per cent of businesses and organisations have no plans to implement it at all.

Manufacturers in this space should aim to provide and market solutions that really add value to both organisations and home users and make a practical difference to their lives.

It’s clear that there is a growing interest from the wider public and businesses in the concept of the ‘smart home’ and this is helped along by products that are being developed as enhanced versions of everyday items they already own such as smart light bulbs, fridges and kettles.

These attract consumers as they are things they have a good understanding of, but now they have a certain wow factor. They have an almost ‘tangible’ benefit that can be seen such as making a cup of tea from bed or the fridge telling you when you’ve run out of your favourite snack.

The above, so called ‘fluffier’ uses of the IoT may be attracting the average Joe on the street, but the security aspects of the smart home and real value these can add may be an area that is more confusing to customers.

Many people aren’t used to having cameras placed outdoors or special hard drives keeping hours of film from the driveway. Although security was actually one of the leading reasons for people to want to purchase smart home devices in the 2015 State of the Smart Home Report, manufactures and retailers really need to show off the added value in terms of real life scenarios, simplicity, future proofing and global standards.

Features such as being able to create custom rules easily, from a mobile device, allows users to control their home tech based on behavior to make property safer. For example, if motion is detected in a certain area, during specified times, the lights can come on. Consumers can also choose to have lights or noises playing when they’re not at home, so it looks like someone is present to deter interest from intruders.

Other simple uses, such as being alerted via a smartphone app when a window has been opened or when a car alarm is going off, are ideal for those who are at work for most of the day or travel a lot. If manufactures can clearly communicate these scenarios then the adoption of smart home will be encouraged.

Simplicity in terms of use, but also design, is paramount to adoption. The sleeker and less intrusive to the home design environment, the better.

As IoT starts to find its place in the real world, there also needs to be an industry push towards adherence to global standards. Systems like SwannOne are open and connect with many brands which people may already have such as Nest thermostats, Phillips Hue lighting and Yale door locks which could be encouraging the 50 per cent predicted growth from Gartner. Users should not be bound to just one system. Security devices need to talk to other smart appliances in the office and control them easily, such as mentioned above.

This consumer education doesn’t stop with the manufacturer. Retailers selling smart home systems need to ensure they are informing potential customers at ground level.

Demonstrations in store are imperative for this kind of ‘new’ technology that may seem daunting at first. By dedicating specific areas in stores and showing real life events gives the consumer a real sense of how easy and simple it is. For example, a smartphone being alerted to a fake opening window can really make it come alive.

In store set up also allows for the demonstration of the easy installation, for example, most of the SwannOne devices are wireless and require no drilling or holes.

Enthusiasm from staff for the category will help drive sales too. Customers need to be inspired and shown that smart home devices can offer so much, not just in the terms of now, but also their future home or small business.

The benefits of IoT and smart home are huge and manufactures are developing products all the time to help make people’s lives easier and more enjoyable in the long term.

The drive for simple use, design and global standards is in full swing; it now just takes all parties to work together to relay this to the end user for mass adoption to occur.

Nicole Tyquin is the marketing communications manager of Connected Home at Swann

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