The market for smart homes and appliances is ready for its COVID-19 level set, following a tumultuous time punctuated by severe economic and supply chain disruptions. Unlike other market sectors, however, consumer spending on smart home and contactless technologies gained ground, along with smart speakers as well as smart washers and towel racks with sterilization functions.
During the pandemic, the concept of “home sweet home” was redefined while spaces were realigned to incorporate new work-at-home and distance learning areas. The “lockdown effect” resulted in a chart-topping year for home improvement projects. According to researchers at Harvard University, Americans spent nearly $420 billion on home improvements and repairs in 2020, as households modified living spaces for work, school, and leisure in response to the pandemic.
Research from Parks Associates found that one-third of smart device owners increased usage of their devices during the pandemic, including owners of smart door locks, all-in-one camera-based security devices, smart smoke/CO detectors, smart video doorbells, smart plug/adapter modules, smart light bulbs, and smart thermostats. While it’s too early to forecast whether consumer adoption of home automation and control systems will continue to climb at such a fast pace in a post-pandemic world, what’s easier to predict is the ongoing demand to address continuing connectivity, data privacy, and security concerns.
Increasing Convenience through Seamless Connectivity
Connectivity is the holy grail of smart homes and appliances, as the ability for IoT devices to “see and speak” with each other drives convenience, comfort, and efficiency. However, the ability to discover and ensure secure, back-end communications between all IoT devices is easier said than done.
Most consumers aren’t willing to download a dozen apps to control their smart devices and appliances. And, while data exchange between devices can enable new levels of convenience, it’s critical to determine how much information should be shared, especially where data privacy and security are concerned.
The journey to device interoperability is full of communication standards and IoT protocols that must be navigated carefully to ensure compatibility without creating undue data privacy or security risk. Equally important is the realization that connectivity alone doesn’t deliver sufficient consumer convenience. The priority really should be on how that connection is being used to transform customer experience and create lasting value.
At the height of the pandemic in April 2020, Peloton attracted a record 23,000 people to a single workout class as a testament to its enduring value in the fitness industry. In the first three months of 2020, the company’s revenues rose 66 percent from a year earlier. Lots of articles and accolades espouse what’s called the “Peloton experience,” which is described as smart, fully immersive digital experiences that are engaging, motivating, and highly effective.
While others try to emulate Peloton’s success, the company continues to add robust content along with live and on-demand instructor-led classes that inspire camaraderie and commitment. An overarching customer-centric focus has enabled the company to amass a large and loyal online and offline community.
The best way for product designers and developers to differentiate their smart home and appliance brands is to put customers at the center of everything …….