GfK: Smart home beats wearables for impact on lives, say consumers

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New GfK research shows 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 of Things – would have an impact on their lives in the next few years (respondents could choose as many technologies as they wished).


Data is currently released for Brazil, USA, UK, Germany and South Korea (China and Japan to follow) – and the results indicate a strong international interest in smart home technology, with just over half (51%) of consumers backing it. This is well ahead of the third (33%) of people who believe wearables will impact their lives, and on a level with mobile payments (54%).

The full study also looked at what each country’s consumers want from smart home technology, their preferred suppliers, and the main barriers hindering uptake.


Top five smart home applications

Internationally, the areas of smart home technology applications that have greatest appeal for consumers are ‘security and control’ and ‘energy or lighting’ (55% and 53% respectively), while ‘entertainment and connectivity’ comes third (48%). ‘Health’ and ‘smart appliances’ are neck and neck in fourth place at 43% 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%) in the UK, but over a half (54%) in the USA and South Korea.

Barriers to adopting smart home technology

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.

GfK head of technology research in the UK and manager of the smart home study Ranj Dale commented: “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 smart home suppliers

When it came to consumers’ preference on whom they trust to supply their smart home technology, 45% wanted a single vendor to provide everything – most likely in the desire for simplicity and a single ecosystem – while 29% 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.

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