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Smart home technology nears top of global consumer demand poll....but price, privacy and knowlegde gaps are barriers to entry


Market data analysts GFK have found that smart home technologies are of more interest to consumers around the world than wearable devices. But price, privacy and having the right information are still obstacles for manufacturers and legislators to overcome and could stall growth in a burgeoning sector. 


New research by data analysts GFK has shown that half of people internationally believe smart home technology will make an impact on their lives in the next few years, compared to just a third who say the same for wearables.  


The study, which covered seven countries, asked consumers to choose which of 11 leading-edge technologies – from 3D printing to augmented/virtual reality to Internet ofThings - would have an impact on their lives in the next few years, with respondents able to choose as many technologies as they liked.


The poll was conducted among adults from the UK, US, Germany, Brazil and South Korea, for which data are available, with China and Japan to follow. So far the results indicate that just over half of consumers (51 per cent) back smart home technology in terms of the impact it will have on their lives compared to 33 per cent for wearable devices, and 54 per cent for mobile payments, the top rated technology. Smart homes technology was accordingly the second most popular in the survey. 


Internationally, the areas of smart home technology applications that have greatest appeal for consumers are ‘ security and control’  and ‘ energy or lighting’  (55 per cent and 53 per cent respectively), while ‘ entertainment and connectivity’  comes third (48 per cent). ‘ Health’  and ‘ smart appliances’  are neck and neck in fourth place at 43 per cent each. But when it comes to the different countries, this broad picture shows strong national variations – such as the appeal of security and control which stands at over a third (38 per cent) in the UK, but over a half (54 per cent) in the USA and South Korea.




There is similar national variation in the barriers that consumers feel are holding them back from acquiring smart home products. The leading issues across all countries are price, with over a third of people overall quoting this as a barrier, followed by privacy concerns (will my home be hacked?), cited by a quarter. But while that’ s the international trend, in the UK, the second highest barrier cited is lack of knowledge, not privacy –while in Brazil it’ s poor internet connection.  


Ranj Dale, GfK’ s head of technology research in the UK and manager of the smart home study, said: “We’ re seeing interesting national variations in practically all the areas we looked at - whether it’ s the level of appeal that the various smart home areas have in different markets, or the perceived barriers to adoption or the preference for single or multiple suppliers. It’ s very much a case that each market has its own specific response to, and requirements for, smart home technology. Our research is already helping our clients understand international demand for smart home technology and what specific factors will drive that demand – as well as how to fine tune their approach within each market.”


Preferred suppliers


When it came to consumers’  preference on whom they trust to supply their smart home technology, 45 per cent wanted a single vendor to provide everything – most likely in the desire for simplicity and a single ecosystem - while 29 per cent favored having a range of vendors. But even here there are national differences. For example, while consumers in most countries favor a utility supplier to provide the energy or lighting aspect of their smart home, South Korean consumers much prefer an electronics manufacturer for this aspect.  


The technology ideas presented to consumers were as follows:


  • Smart Home Technology

  • Wearable technology

  • Mobile payments

  • Virtual and Augmented reality (VR & AR)

  • The Internet of Things (IOT)

  • Machine to Machine (M2M) technology

  • 3D Printing

  • Cloud computing & storage

  • Smart Cities

  • Connected Car

  • Driverless cars/Autonomous driving 


GfK interviewed over 1,000 adults aged 16 and over in Germany, UK, USA, Brazil, South Korea, China and Japan, with interviews conducted online. Respondents were recruited to be nationally representative of online users in each market. Fieldwork was carried out in September and October 2015.





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