Selling Smart Home Tech: How to Overcome the Biggest Obstacles to Mass Market Adoption
Smart home technology has been a bit of a tough sell for mainstream retailers lately, especially brick-and-mortar stores. The main reason? The early-adopter audience is already onboard, but the tech hasn’t quite yet been able to span the “chasm” of technology adoption into the mass-market.
Figuring out how to make smart home approachable for consumers is the key to mass market adoption. Devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home have helped to open the door, but attracting mass market consumers to the technology isn’t going to work--we MUST bring the tech to consumers by incorporating it into something that’s already familiar. Products like the Minion Cam and the Stuart Cam are great examples of how this works: they’re cute, friendly and familiar characters with simple, straightforward setup and navigation.
In reality, the best smart home tech is one that virtually disappears into the background. Products that require behavioral change, demanding consumers do something new or in a new way, are simply asking too much. They want ease, simplicity and automation that works almost like magic. The more we can minimize the burden of change, the better.
To that end, retailers must address these four common consumer concerns around smart home tech on the sales floor:
- Complexity. Brands need to provide products that are easy to use, and retailers must focus their messaging on this ease and simplicity. For most mainstream consumers, configuring multiple features may be overwhelming. Another concern is complicated setup and installation. IoT and smart devices are still somewhat intimidating, and the lead message should cover how easy the device is to operate directly out of the box.
- Value. The leading smart home products are priced in the premium range, and consumers can sometimes associate price with quality–the $200 product is surely more reliable than the $50 product. As the cost comes down, consumers are becoming more concerned about quality. For mass market, the sweet spot on pricing seems to be under $100. With the big name brands all above that, consumers question the quality of the lesser-known brands that fall below it. For retailers, helping consumers to understand the balance between technology and value is key. Namely: just as with every other technology, thanks to economies of scale, mid-tier brands are now able to offer affordable products using the same technology as the higher-priced brands.
- Security. Horror stories about baby monitors being hacked and web cam voyeurism have consumers a little on edge about the security of Wi-Fi based smart home products. Consumers expect that “someone” is taking care of this problem, but the truth is there is no certification, no governing body that requires security protocols to prevent intrusion. That’s why it is critical retailers choose manufacturers who take security seriously and who build products that adhere to enterprise-grade standards with security designed-in from the beginning, rather than as an afterthought.
- Integration. One of the biggest obstacles with smart home tech is the fact that so many products are stand-alone, each with their own operating system, mobile app, security, etc. For retailers, offering integrated, compatible products is key to gaining a competitive advantage. Products developed in partnership between hardware and software vendors ensure greater stability, reliability, compatibility and security. For retailers, curating an integrated product line will help to assuage consumers’ concerns over complexity.
Getting smart home technology to bridge the chasm from early adopters to mass market consumers will require a joint effort between manufacturers and retailers. By collaborating on development, design, value and messaging, the industry can overcome these obstacles to finally take smart home mainstream.