Customer Behaviour

Hitwise research today reveals Brits are looking for new ways to automate their houses, with searches for ‘smart homes’ increasing yearly. Surprisingly, it is the north of England that is more likely to explore smart devices than any other UK region, including London.

Based on the online activity of 3 million UK shoppers, the research found that Brits are focused on making their home more comfortable through the use of new technological advancement. Over the past year searches for ‘smart lights ’have increased by 267 per cent and ‘smart thermometers’ are up 180 per cent. In fact, smart fridges are the only product to have not seen a significant increase in search traffic, perhaps due to their declining novelty value.

While searches for smart devices are dominated by 18-24 year olds looking to ‘smarten’ up their homes, those aged 45-55 were found to be driving searches to products that have been on the market for longer, such as smart thermostats and home security systems. Signposting a need for trust and proof of value before purchase, it also demonstrates an eagerness and interest form the older generation to benefit from the efficiencies smart technology in the home provides.

Amazon is the top retailer when it comes to searching for ‘smart homes’ online, whilst ranks number one for publishers reviewing the products.

Top Ranked Retailers* Top Ranked Publishers*
1.       Amazon UK 1.
2.       Currys 2.   PC Advisor
3.       John Lewis 3.   PCMag UK
4.       eBay UK 4.   The Independent
5.       Maplin Electronics 5.

*Over the last 12 weeks (ending 22nd October 2016)

Aside from focusing on in-home efficiencies that can be made, the Hitwise research also reveals a shift in smart device popularity offering the latest and greatest entertainment packages. Year on year searches for media boxes and smart TVs, such as Apple TV have decreased. Instead, increased searches for smaller connected devices have taken over during the past year, with clicks through from searches to Chromecast up 27.33% year on year, demonstrating a growing demand for watching online video on TV via a portable device.

Nigel Wilson, managing director at Hitwise, explains the importance of recognising a broadening customer base: “The research shows that the older generation shouldn’t be discredited as users of smart home technology. As the smart home market matures with the launch of a second wave of small and capable devices, those products that have been tried and tested have the attention of users outside of a young, tech-savvy demographic. The popularity of these smart devices among older, regionally-based markets could be the reason for well-established retailers like Curry’s, John Lewis or Maplin Electronics driving a large part of search traffic.

“Amazon has found the model for selling smart devices by leading the market with the launch of its own-brand products, such as Amazon Echo, while hosting other brands’ products on its site.  As the popularity of smart home devices rises, internet-only retailers should not underestimate the value traditional retailers add by providing a trusted and widely-recognised platform for ecommerce, supported by the amenity of physical stores.”

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