Do customers really want a smart home? 56% of UK respondents say no

What does Context's survey results mean for the future of the sector?
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We've already explored when smart home automation products might hit the mainstream here at PCR, but what if they won't at all?

New data shows that 62 per cent of UK consumers haven't heard of the term 'Smart Home', and more worryingly, 56 per cent simply aren't interested in smart home products.

Also, 60 per cent highlighted a lack of knowledge as a key reason for not buying. 

The data comes from industry analyst firm Context, in conjunction with retail research consultancy Conlumino, which surveyed 1,500 consumers in the UK, France and Germany during August and September 2015.

Despite the negative figures, a third of consumers say they will pay up to £150 for a smart home device, while 23 per cent will go as high as £250.

European consumers expect their kitchens to be the 'smartest' room first in their homes, followed by the bedroom and then the living room.

Nearly a quarter of Germans expect to have a smart home in less than a year, while 46 per cent of consumers in the UK, France and Germany expect to be living in a smart home within the next three to five years

Having your home ready for when you arrive is the most desired aspect of a smart home. This is followed by shutting the home down when you go to sleep, and then entertainment options.

The three most popular products which households have already purchased are smart thermostats, smart televisions and smart sound systems, with smart lightbulbs likely to be purchased over the next six months.

Price remains an important factor for this developing category, with 36 per cent per cent feeling that smart home products are currently too expensive. However UK consumers are willing to spend more than their European counterparts, with 11 per cent prepared to spend up to £1,000 and seven per cent willing to invest over £1,000 in new technology.

Up to £150 appears to be the current ‘sweet-spot’ with just under a third (32 per cent) opting for this amount when considering future purchases. Just over one in five (23 per cent) are happy to commit to products that cost up to £250.

When asked which room they think will be ‘smartest first’, consumers expect the kitchen to take the lead, followed by their bedrooms and then the living room. 

Adam Simon, global retail MD at Context, said: “It is great to see early adopters already anticipating how these new technologies will fit into their daily lives.

"At the moment, we are seeing awareness of individual products such as smart TVs, smart meters and smart sound systems but less knowledge of the wider benefits of connecting multiple devices to create a holistic smart home environment. 

"Nearly two-thirds of consumers (62 per cent) in the UK, France and Germany remain unaware of the term ‘smart home.’ Also over half of respondents feel they don’t understand enough about smart home products. This suggests the need for fresh thinking from the industry both at a manufacturer and retailer level to educate consumers and demonstrate the convenience, enjoyment and value of smarter homes.

“Picking, pricing and promoting the right product at the right time has a huge commercial impact on brands and our research will help retailers, technology vendors, resellers and service providers understand and adapt to consumer perceptions.”

While some of the findings are promosing, and despite the vast new array of devices, hubs, sensors et al, encouraging the public to actually invest in the technology remains a challenge. 

It is early days for the smart home sector, and in time it may flourish, but for now it's having a bit of a stuttering start.

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