Hive targets mass audiences instead of the ‘tech-savvy’ in brand overhaul

The smart home brand wants to convince consumers that connected devices are not just for the ‘tech savvy’, but admits it still has a long way for it to become “the norm”.


Hive has launched a new identity, positioning and campaign as it looks to present the brand to a mass audience by focusing on real-life use cases instead of technical qualities.

The rebrand takes effect simultaneously in markets including the UK, Canada and North America, which is considered a “priority territory”. The new ‘Let’s Get Living’ campaign goes live tomorrow (10 June), and looks to show people how having a smart home enhances daily life.

Smart home brand Hive has had a £500m investment parent company Centrica to take it to multiple markets. The aim is to make the connected home “simple, affordable and accessible for everyone”.

It also hopes to capitalise on the growing connected home market. Figures supplied by the brand show connected home revenue was 30% higher to the end of April 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. It also sold more than 450,000 Hive products in 2016, three times the amount sold in 2015. It hopes to have one million connected home hubs installed by the end of 2017.

Meanwhile, PwC predicts that by 2020 the connected home market could be worth almost $150bn (£123.7bn) globally. But a Deloitte survey last year suggested that smart home device ownership in the UK is stagnating.

The survey, which looked into smart home device ownership levels and interest, shows almost no growth between 2015 and 2016, even in the most popular smart home device categories.

Nicky Mackrell, global brand and marketing director at Hive, has been in charge of creating the new identity since she started at the company 12 months ago. She tells Marketing Week she has been “agonising” over how she could take the brand from being a “smart thermostat brand” to a smart home company that works across multiple markets.

Following extensive consumer research, the brand found that in order to be successful, it had to evolve its “static” identity.

We wanted to show how our products are not just a piece of kit but have real life use cases, which would trigger an ‘ahuh’ moment among consumers.

Nicky Mackrell, Hive

“We needed to be much more dynamic and human. We needed to evolve our positioning, and move into the mainstream market by focusing on more than just giving people control [over their energy usage],” she explains.

Working with Wolff Olins, Mackrell says Hive has created a much more “distinctive” brand that should stand out from competitors in a “complex and cluttered category” – especially in the US.

“We had a one-dimensional brand but we needed it to be more flexible, dynamic and adaptive. There is more colour and vibrancy to the logo, we’re more distinctive in terms of our imagery. We had quite a tech feel to our brand before,” she says.

The campaign is also aimed at opening Hive up to a wider audience. One clip is based around a father who has just managed to get his baby to fall asleep in his arms. Eager not to wake him up and disturb the peace, he uses the app on his phone to turn the TV and lights down.

“Our insight still shows while people are more aware of the market, they don’t necessarily see how it can be useful to them. We wanted to show how our products are not just a piece of kit but have real life use cases, which would trigger an ‘ahuh’ moment among consumers,” she explains.

Overcoming cost as a barrier

Another issue for the brand is convincing consumers to buy the products, which are relatively pricey. For example, a starter kit for a smart thermostat costs £250. While Mackrell admits cost is a barrier, she believes the campaign will introduce consumers to a range of products, that are not as expensive. The company also offers a subscription service “like the Spotify model” called Hive Welcome Home, which aims to make the services accessible to a larger audience.

Besides the tech-savvy, Hive’s previous target demographic was predominantly made up of home owners. But, Mackrell says, as an increasing number of consumers are only able to rent, the brand is keen to prove that its products are more than just smart thermostats.

“Consumers can buy a range of kit under a plan for £5.99 a month, which makes it more accessible from a cost point of view. And even if people only have one product, they really start to see the benefits [of being able to control costs] and get going,” she says.

Despite Hive’s new identity and campaign, the brand is eager not to get ahead of itself and admits it still has a job to do when it comes to convincing consumers of its value.

She concludes: “[Having a connected home] is definitely not the norm, we’re still a long way from being saying ‘I must have that’.”



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