London, 14.07.2021

Smart products experience sales surge in UK as pandemic drives investment in tech for the home

The consumer appeal of smart products has been dropping in Britain since 2017, affecting almost all categories including energy & lighting, security & control, health, and appliances. Only smart entertainment & connectivity products managed to buck the trend, with appeal continuing to rise until 2018 before falling away. However, 2021 has finally seen an upward trend across all areas, suggesting people are starting to see potential in having smart products around the home.

Critically, this positive trend is seen in actual ownership too. The most popular products continue to be smart TVs, smart speakers and smart fitness & activity trackers, which have all seen yearly increase in ownership levels over the last three years. Nearly six out of 10 Britons (58%) now say they have a smart TV in their household, up from 49% last year, and nearly four in 10 (38%) have a smart speaker, up from 29% last year. For smart health & activity trackers, the increased in take-up is more gradual, with a quarter (24%) of people in Britain now saying they own one, up from 22% last year.

Trevor Godman, key account director at GfK, comments, “Looking at the jump in claimed ownership of smart TVs this year, I suggest two factors are at play. First is the undoubted increase in sales of smart TVs that we’ve tracked during the lockdowns while people were stuck at home. But I also believe that people’s increased use of streaming services during this period also made more people aware of the TV’s smart functionality.”

Strong growth in emerging smart categories (unit sales)  

Some of the biggest growth seen has been in emerging areas where smart sales, although still a very small proportion of sales compared to the full market, have jumped significantly. Smart kitchen appliances (small ones) are a prime example, with 257% growth compared to the previous year, along with smart doorbells, personal appliances (including toothbrushes), sensors and detector, and cooking. 

Godman adds, “With nearly a quarter of UK consumers now having at least four smart home devices in their homes – not counting smartphones, laptops and tablets – the interoperability of these products is becoming increasingly important. This is something that manufacturers and service providers must address to maintain momentum in creating smarter homes.”

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About the study   

GfK Smart Home Study UK has been running annually for six years, the last five of which are in partnership with techUK. The online survey asks a nationally representative sample of 1,000 UK adults about their awareness, interest and ownership of a selection of smart home products: smart domestic appliances, smart entertainment, smart energy & lighting, smart health monitors and smart security & control. Fieldwork for the 2021 survey was conducted between 11 March and 08 April 2021.

GfK regularly collects sales data for the consumer electronics, photo, telecommunications, information technology, office equipment, and major and small domestic appliance segments through its retail panels. 

GfK offers a Smart Home solution consisting of a Smart Home Total Technical Consumer Goods report and individual Smart Home reports for Entertainment & Office, Major Domestic Appliances, Small Domestic Appliance & Health, Home & Automation sectors respectively. GfK Consumer Life also offers a syndicated report Smart Home Today and Tomorrow.


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