Why Marketers Need To Start Thinking About Smart-Home Technology

The age of the connected consumer is here: 215 million Americans are dual desktop/laptop and mobile users, and smart-home device shipments grew nearly 30 percent in the past year.

In 2016, over 215 million people in the U.S. are dual desktop/laptop and mobile users, while over 30 million use a fitness activity tracker or smart watch according to a report from eMarketer — meaning that today’s consumer is more connected than ever.

It isn’t news that consumers rely on multiple devices in their daily lives, but the current rate of adoption is: Even with significant market saturation, smartphone shipments increased 5 percent from 2015, reaching 183 million this year, while smart-home related shipments increased 29 percent. And emerging virtual reality technology? Nearly 1 million devices shipped this year, for a staggering 296 percent increase over 2015 numbers.

But which smart technologies are set to have the greatest immediate impact on consumers’ lives? And what does this mean for marketers as we hurdle toward and increasingly connected world?

A ‘Smart’ Start

In terms of what devices are likely to be in the most homes by 2020, experts tend to agree: It’s smart-home devices. As of the end of 2015, a reported 50 percent of internet users worldwide believed the technology would be a part of — or have an effect on — their lives. The only higher estimate went to mobile payments, which have already impacted millions of consumers.

Connected home products come with great opportunities for the companies making and marketing them — as well as the brands that can market through them; for example, a yogurt brand could send messages or discounts through a smart fridge. But Ryan Taylor, senior product marketing manager at Sonos, reminds that in a connected home, messaging consumers should be considered a privilege.

“We ask for permission to talk to customers. When they give us that permission, we feel that we’ve earned it because we provide them a better experience as a result,” Taylor told eMarketer. “We can then start to tailor the experience because we get real-time feedback on their usage. It requires having a one-to-one conversation with the user. The best advice I can give to a marketer is to focus on the experience.”

Connecting The Car

One other major change set to emerge before 2020? The idea that the connected home doesn’t end at the front door.

Hyundai has developed a connected car that delivers a monthly report on the health of the vehicle through the Hyundai mobile app, as well as offering the ability to message customers about a variety of updates and services — and senior group manager of connected cars, Michael Deitz, says connecting to smart-home products is the next step.

“We’re going to see more integration. More home connectivity will start coming into the car, and car connectivity will start coming into the home,” Deitz said. “If there is a detection of smoke at home, that will trigger a notification to your car. And at home, a smart TV that shows the weather will say, ‘It’s 23 degrees outside—would you like to remote start your car?’ That’s where this is all going in the very short term.”

And in terms of messaging connected car users, it has to be all about simplicity. “The incentive [to opt-in] is [about relevancy],” Deitz said. “Not having to think about when the car is due for an oil change, or finding out ahead of time if the tire pressure is low in the vehicle.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.