In-store brand ambassadors: Helping smart home technology to reach its high expectations
Naomi Palmer, Category Director, Retail Marketing Group
The technology revolution has captured our imaginations by giving us the potential to transform our homes into futuristic hubs of luxury, comfort and entertainment.
With the latest consumer technologies pushing the boundaries of progression, the modern home has enjoyed an influx of innovations from the 4K Ultra HD TV, to cutting-edge games consoles and wireless kitchens, all of which allow us to maximise our leisure time.
Up next is widely tipped to be the rise of the ‘smart home’, a set-up where user devices are managed remotely through the internet. So high are these expectations for the role of smart home technology, that Statista has predicted that the global smart home market is estimated to grow to more than 53 billion U.S dollars in value by 2022.
Neither a utopian fantasy or an overly-ambitious vision; the Internet of Things (IoT) has already provided homeowners with the ability to have far greater control of electric appliances.
Despite these recent advancements however, many consumers are still reluctant to purchase smart home appliances and embrace this transition into innovation. Overall, this hesitance can mainly be put down to a lack of understanding about the true value of smart home technology and the benefits that it can offer shoppers.
Amidst this doubt, now is the time for consumer technology providers to find a way to overcome this sense of confusion and uncertainty to ensure that the smart home market is able to fulfil its exciting potential and not fall short of the mark.
Exploring the market
So, what’s out there? The smart home market has seen a rise in innovations such as smart speakers, smart lightbulbs, smart doorbells and smart kitchen appliances. At the touch of a smartphone button, we can perform an array of tasks, from changing the heating and lighting of our living rooms, to using a voice-activated artificial intelligence (AI) to change the channel on our televisions. By allowing us to ease the process of the more mundane tasks, we’re freer to enjoy the more fun elements in life. After all, our time spent at home is often the most valuable.
Although, smart home technology is not just simply a means of convenience. It can also pave the way for reduced costs in the long run by creating greater transparency for home management. For example, controlling temperature through a mobile device can offer users an easier means to save money on utility and energy bills.
We also cannot ignore the role that smart home technology plays in security. You no longer have to be rich and famous to enjoy 24/7 home monitoring, with smart products that offer motion sensors and cameras that send alerts and can be controlled by a smartphone.
By acting as a personal assistant and getting to know the user, Smart home technology also has the intelligence to understand your patterns of behaviour and to provide a tailored experience.
With this in mind, we cannot overlook the vast benefits of smart home technology in terms of control, convenience, security and accessibility.
Getting off to the right start
Beginning your journey however, can often be a real challenge. Where do you even begin to explore what would work for you? How do you know what really is useful without having to waste money in the process?
UK consumers have been relatively slow in embracing the idea of the IoT in their homes. A recent PwC UK study of 2,000 consumers found that whilst ownership of smart devices has more than doubled in the last two years, the majority of consumers (52%) still have no plans to invest in connected home technology. The study highlighted the perceived complexity of smart home devices and the doubts over the financial benefits as the main reasons for this.
This scepticism has also been reflected in a study by Retail Marketing Group. With three quarters of shoppers questioned having no smart products at home, this is a market with a huge potential to generate more sales, especially considering that one in three are planning to purchase a smart home product within the next year.
Those same shoppers were asked about what would give them the confidence to buy. The majority of those questioned claimed that they were motivated by a good purchase price, understanding the benefits of the technology and long-term cost savings.
Resoundingly, there was a lack of understanding as to why they would benefit from the technology, with some feeling it was more of an excessive luxury, rather than a means to a better lifestyle. It is therefore up to smart home brands to make them see hidden value!
How to captivate consumers
So, the race is on to engage these consumers and give them the confidence to buy products for the smart home. But how exactly can consumer electronics brands achieve this?
Easy, by finding a way to allow consumers to see first-hand how the technology works with a hub of information, that can be tailored to their specific requirements. A demonstration of voice-activated AI for example, is far more insightful than reading about its specifications, and providing an interactive experience is far more likely to be rewarded with sales. This is an area of customer experience where traditional brick and mortar retailers can far outperform their online competitors.
They can achieve this by investing in brand ambassadors who intimately understand the technology, so that they can guide shoppers on their purchase journey by building personal connections. This tailored experience that addresses the specific needs of each unique shopper is one that creates a far more emotional connection – paving the way for trust and long-term brand loyalty.
Eventually, it seems inevitable that more consumers will buy into the vision of smart home technology. Whilst those brands that fail to recognise the relationship between a lack of general understanding and smart home popularity will struggle to generate sales, the most successful smart home brands will be the ones that identify the importance of building long-term relationships with evolving shoppers in the modern retail climate.