Brands across the tech landscape are exploring the potential for smart homes and connected devices to change the way we live our lives.
And while we are still in the early adopter phase, Rebecca Hirst, marketing director for home at Samsung Electronics, argues that as consumers continue to interact with voice assistants and use smart entertainment products like Netflix, mainstream adoption is firmly on the horizon.
Speaking at the Festival of Marketing this week, Hirst discussed the potential for smart homes to be a “gamechanger for loyalty”, as the seamlessness of the user experience connected devices provide has the ability to “create massive stickiness”.
“The perceived pain of buying [a device], the value exchange, setting it up and connecting it to everything, actually it’s not that painful but it’s a psychological hurdle for consumers to get over. Once you’ve got over that you’ve got more choice in the home, it’s an amazing opportunity,” she stated.
She also sees “pockets of positivity” in the flatlining housing market because the generation getting onto the housing ladder for the first time in 2018 wanst to live in smart homes. These homeowners want everything to be wired up ready to go and don’t want to incur the cost of installing any of the tech themselves, said Hirst, which is why Samsung is working with construction companies on integrating its product into new build homes.
The tech giant is also exploring how to integrate smart tech into new student accommodation, as the government is looking to put investment into “smart ready” halls of residence.
When it comes to the opportunities for voice search, Hirst stressed that we are already going through the learning curve of talking to objects and therefore adoption of voice is only going to get bigger.
She described voice search as an “easy entry point” into smart tech, especially given that by the end of the year estimates are that 30% of interactions with all devices will be through voice and 50% of all searches will be voice based.
There are, however, a number of issues holding back widespread consumer adoption. One of the most common concerns is around the privacy implications of such devices, especially as they operate inside the home.
Hirst stressed that the tech industry needs to police itself, behave ethically and be very open about how it uses, stores and safeguards consumer data.
“Our lawyers are all over us as a marketing team every minute of every day in terms of how we communicate this, how we communicate what is essentially one of the biggest barriers to consumers adopting [smart tech],” said Hirst
“For us it’s black and white. For us it’s GDPR and legality or it’s not. What we’ve seen in the headlines is about hackers. That’s what the tabloids love to pump out, that fear you’re in your underpants watching telly and someone’s filming you and taking that feed and splashing it across the internet.”
She explained that consumers don’t really get what smart homes, the internet of things and AI mean as it is the language of business. However, what they do want is for a connected home to manage the little, everyday things that make their lives easier with two main areas of relevance – security and comfort.
When it comes to automation Hirst believe consumers still want to be in control and have the choice whether to switch their hair straighteners off or turn the washing machine on. This is where the role of context comes in and the ability for connected devices to adapt to the user’s routine and their preferences, prompting them when things are not quite as they should be.
Hirst explained that as we move forward with connected living the next requirement will be super-fast 5G connectivity to help develop the contextual understanding between devices trying to connect multiple data points. This will also mean that consumers can switch between devices and are not tied to a single brand.
“The beauty of connected things is a world where so many devices connect to each other, more than we can ever imagine right now, but that requires openness in the technology and a massive amount of interoperability. Gone are the days where you buy one device from one manufacturer and it only talks to devices from that manufacturer,” Hirst added.