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Will 2016 be the year of the smart home?

London, 11.11.2015

  • ​91% of consumers are aware of the term “smart home"
  • Almost one half (47%) think it will have more impact on their lives than wearable devices (31%)
  • Security, energy and entertainment are the smart home benefits UK consumers find most appealing

GfK has today announced the next generation service for its brand and communication trackers, putting the power of real-time data access into the hands of its clients around the globe.

Excitement about the possibilities of the smart home as “the next big thing” in consumer technology is at fever pitch in some quarters. For retailers, manufacturers, utilities and telecoms companies the good news is that the majority of UK consumers are aware of the term “smart home” (91 percent), and two thirds (65 percent) claim to have some knowledge of its meaning according to a new five market study by GfK.

Ranj Dale, director of the GfK smart home study, says, “It’s really important to remember that we are talking about people’s homes. As well as “smart”, any new technology needs to be attractive and comfortable. It has to blend in with our lives and improve them, not make us adapt to them.

They say “An Englishman’s home is his castle” – and making homes “smart” doesn’t mean living in clinical, automated houses where every need is anticipated and met by robots or household appliances. Smart home is about harnessing technology to make everyday tasks easier in our existing environments, such as household chores, freeing up valuable time to get on and enjoy life.”

The smart home mix: from smart meters to washing machines

So what do UK consumers find most appealing in the idea of a home that is “smart”? There are four areas that seem to appeal – saving time, saving money, gaining control and enjoying peace of mind through enhanced safety and security

Top of the applications areas UK consumers find most appealing is Security & Control at 38 percent. It is followed by Entertainment & Connectivity and Energy/Lighting, both at 36 percent each. Health follows at 29 percent, and Household Appliances at 28 percent.

Ranj Dale, director says, “As with any new technology, high cost is often a barrier to adoption at the beginning. At the moment many of the smart products are expensive – for instance a smart washing machine is about three times as expensive as a standard one. However, as more manufacturers enter the market, prices will drop and people will be able to enjoy the benefits. Our survey showed four in 10 (37 percent) currently see high prices as a barrier, but today’s savvy shopper will be ready to adopt the smart technology that’s right for them when it’s more affordable.”

With so many applications of smart technology in the home, there are a myriad of organizations – not just the global technology giants – interested in the business opportunities it presents. The research asked consumers who they trust to deliver the smart home, and it’s clear that at present no one brand – be they technology provider, high street retailer, telecoms provider or utilities company - comes out on top.

What is clear is that partnerships between organisations will be crucial to making the smart home a reality, as will understanding what smart options consumers are happy to have in their home. "No one can do it all. What we see from GfK's latest study is that it is very important for big global brands and smart home innovators to open up the possibility to work together so we can create a better home,” says Vanessa Folkesson, independent investment advisor and former Sustainability Innovation Manager of IKEA.

As Ranj Dale concludes, “Making sure people get the smart home benefits they want is really important. Consumers are definitely aware that a smart appliance could be collecting data about them so brand trust is going to have a crucial part to play in this market. Every supplier needs to be sure to deliver on the benefits of freedom, safety and security and cost-efficiency to turn smart home into a mass market opportunity – and crucially, not encroach on personal privacy in the home.”

-Ends-

About GfK

GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices.

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