Insight Report: Consumer Interest in Home Automation is Stagnant (For Now)

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Publication date: July 29, 2015 | Download the PDF version

Abstract: There is a lot of buzz around the “smart home” but consumers aren’t quick to jump on the bandwagon. This Insight Report uses CivicScience’s syndicated data to compare snapshots of consumer sentiment taken in early 2015 and again in mid-summer 2015 to highlight that unchanging interest level.

The report also uses extensive, available attribute data about the respondents to highlight some key findings that may assist product managers, marketers and retailers.


 

The “smart home” received a tremendous amount of attention at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held this past January 2015, with many existing and newly introduced products showcasing their smartphone app-enabled capabilities to power and automate many aspects of the home. CivicScience is using our polling and InsightStore™ platform to monitor consumer interest in several main categories within home automation, which gives our subscription clients ongoing access to the syndicated questions and results for further study. This report covers what we learned so far about consumers who are interested in certain home automation categories.

From January 19 to February 20, 2015, we launched a question asking nearly 3,000 U.S. adult consumers which smart home product they’d most be interested in purchasing next. We launched the question again on June 15 through July 21 to see if consumer interest has grown or shifted, collecting nearly 5,500 U.S. adult consumers for that snapshot.

Unfortunately for the smart home industry, consumer interest has waned; we see slightly more (+4%) respondents recently saying “none of these” products are of purchase interest. This may be sobering news for the industry, but may help build a case for more marketing and product exposure investment.

HomeAutomation_2015compare

Despite that macro trend, purchase interest in products for automating climate control functions in the home slightly increased, from 8% to 10%.

Let’s take a look at how the results change when you weave in “Early Adopters,” which is a group of respondents who, in a separate poll session, said that they typically try new products before other people that they know:

HomeAutomation_2015earlyadopters

Early adopters are somewhat more likely to have interest in purchasing smart home products when compared to the recent sentiment of the general U.S. Population (49% vs. 43%), but there’s not as much of a difference as we’d expect. In terms of which products hold greater interest with them, the climate control automation and home security offerings rank slightly higher with early adopters than with everyone else (but only by a few percentage points).

Clearly, much more of a marketing push is needed to build consumer awareness, excitement, and adoption. Additional intelligence mined from our InsightStore™ may be helpful to marketing teams and category strategists as we look deeper into other attributes about respondents who have stated purchase interest in this area.

We grouped all those interested respondents in 2015 to see what can be learned about them:

Age:

All products – except for home security – have higher interest levels among 18-24 year olds, particularly lighting and audio, which also rank fairly high among 25-29 year olds. Millennials may be a ripe market for certain products that have much lower price points, less integration work, and a high degree of portability.

Climate control, automated electrical outlets, and home security are more popular than average among 35-44 year olds. This age group is more likely to include homeowners than Millennials, therefore products that integrate directly into the ‘wiring’ and infrastructure of the home may resonate better among this demo. Meanwhile, all of the products have lower-than average interest among those age 45 and older, who are overall more likely to say they’d purchase “none of these.”

Parental Preferences

Home security products are, understandably, about 20% more likely to be the next smart-home purchase among parents compared to average.

The Tech-Savviness Factor

Very predictably, purchase interest for all home automation product categories is higher among smart phone users vs. non smart phone users – with a lift of 25%-36% across the categories.

Less expectedly, though: Consumers interested in smart climate control, automated electrical outlets / switches, and lighting products are over 80% more likely than average to very closely follow electronics and tech trends.

Audio products rank much higher (+84%) among those who “always” seek out online reviews for items they want to purchase.

Lifestyle Attributes

Climate control and automated electrical outlets / switches index higher among product evangelizers (people who have also told us that “I like to tell others about new brands or technology”). Happy consumers of these products could be incented to become marketing extensions.

Audio products are much more likely (+80%) to be the choice of frequent movie goers who visit the movie theater at least once a month. Theater-quality sound and experiences may be desired in the home, but this insight also suggests a strong marketing opportunity for both makers and retailers of these products: in-theater ad buys.

Climate control and home security products rank higher than average among those who very closely follow music trends and events. Advertising these products on music news sites may be helpful.

Finally: All of the smart home product categories rank higher among those who’ve played fantasy sports, particularly climate control.  This is a peculiar, unexpected finding that we can’t easily explain – but it is certainly an interesting tidbit.

Will Smart Home Product Interest Grow?

Asking consumers about their own purchase plans is one area of research study. Another is a question format in which we ask consumers to be the ‘predictors’ of smart home automation popularity.

HomeAutomation_2015mostpopular

Nearly 9,500 U.S. adults answered a question about which products will be most popular in the next year. As the results show, despite nearly half of consumers saying they are not interested in making a home automation purchase, only about a quarter (27%) feel that none of its product categories will be popular. This seems like quite a disconnect, and this may be a case where the early adopters and their word of mouth can get more consumers to wade in sooner.

Across the major categories, more U.S. adults (at 43%) believe that smart home security products will be the most popular over the other choices, with climate control still coming in at a (distant) second place at 15%.

Those making and/or marketing products for the smart home seem to have some serious work in front of them, but as with any new innovation, there is the inevitable adoption curve. These syndicated questions in the CivicScience InsightStore™ will be relaunched periodically to snapshot any changes in consumer purchase interest and the composition of those interested in certain sub-categories.

 

Download the PDF version of this report

 

About the CivicScience Methodology:
CivicScience collects real-time consumer research data via polling applications that run on hundreds of U.S. publisher websites, cycling through thousands of active questions on any given day. Respondents voluntarily opt-in their answers with no incentives, compensation or coercion — they answer for fun and are kept anonymous, allowing for greatly reduce bias and higher levels of engagement. The respondents for this report were weighted for the U.S. Census, 18 years and older. CivicScience builds deep, timely psychographic profiles of these respondents with each question they answer over time, providing valuable consumer sentiment and behavior insight data to the decision makers who care through subscriptions to our InsightStore™. The CivicScience methodology has been scientifically validated by a team of academic leaders and by independent research firms. CivicScience currently has millions of anonymous consumer profiles stored in the InsightStore™, growing daily.

© July 2015. CivicScience, Inc. http://cs-marcomm.demandco.webfactional.com