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By Gemma JoyceSep 12
Across the world, people are welcoming new guests into their homes. That guest is smart home technology, which has the ability to transform living spaces from analog to automated.
Gone are the days when consumers had to manually adjust the thermostat in their homes or walk across the room to turn on a light. Now, all it takes is shouting some commands to a voice assistant to adjust lighting, monitor security systems, control heating and air conditioning, and turn on entertainment applications like a smart TV.
But are consumers excited for this Jetson-like reimagining of their homes? Or are they apprehensive? Which aspects do they love? And which feel like privacy invasions waiting to happen?
Well it turns out that it’s not nearly as black and white as you might imagine. Consumer opinion about smart homes varies significantly depending on the brands and products in question. In fact, when we analyzed the consumer conversation about smart homes, we learned that it’s not one discussion, but five. According to social media data, there are five categories of smart home devices, and they all elicit markedly different opinions:
In this post, we use millions of consumer conversations about smart home technology to identify consumer sentiment, preferences, and trends that can help consumer electronics brands better understand the industry’s evolving landscape.
The smart home trend is highly customizable; homes of all sizes can be turned into a smart home. To embrace the smart home trend, consumers can choose to incorporate multiple smart components, or just one. Smart homes are making a splash in major cities: Ipswich (U.K.), London, New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco discuss smart homes the most.
Which category of smart home device generates the most conversation? Throughout the years, lighting is the most popular smart home application, though voice assistants’ share of voice grew significantly. Some brands specialize in just one area while others offer products and services in all. By looking at the online conversation about smart homes, we’re able to uncover what consumers think about the different smart home applications.
With the help of digital technologies, consumers are no longer in the dark about how to control lighting in their homes. Top consumer concerns about lighting include energy efficiency, levels (how bright the lights are), and mood lighting.
Security applications in smart homes can provide peace of mind, but also stoke fears around privacy and hacking. Main discussion topics include fear of being hacked, cameras used for monitoring systems, and wirelessness.
I’m intrigued by the “connected home” concept. But what are the security implications there? Can your home be hacked?— Rocío Lower (@RocioDawn) January 13, 2014
Thinking about how in the future people could sue @ATT @verizon @GetSpectrum when the internet goes down at home and there is a burglary because wireless security systems are compromised #NetNeutrality #smarthome or what if internet goes out and you can’t watch my baby monitor?— erinyasgar (@erinyasgar) December 30, 2017
HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) is essential to any consumer who wants a comfortable home and being able to control heating and cooling through apps provides greater convenience. Consumers discuss thermostats, the brand Nest, and Amazon Alexa.
Of the five smart home applications, voice assistants have experienced the most significant growth in the past three years, with many consumers considering voice assistants entry-level smart home devices. With Amazon Echo in the catbird seat, other brands are developing voice assistants to compete. The dominant topics are Amazon Echo, Google Home, and speakers.
Entertainment has lagged behind the other categories in terms of popularity in recent years, as “smart” TVs haven’t been fully integrated into the larger smart home ecosystem. However, that is changing as Amazon just announced a new Fire TV Cube that attaches an Echo voice assistant to your TV, allowing you to turn it on and control the volume with your voice. Consumers discuss the devices needed for smart entertainment, home theater, and the brand Apple.
By analyzing consumer conversations on smart homes, brands can understand what is driving consumer adoption, which smart home applications are the most useful and why, and how consumer opinion is evolving on this new technology. The online conversation yields honest opinions about an exciting trend. These insights can then inform product development or updates, customer service, or competitive analysis.
As more consumer electronics enter the frothy smart home market, it will become more important than ever to listen to consumer opinions, desires, preferences, and concerns. Recent years have shown that there is a lot of money to be made in the smart home market, but only for the brands that are best able to decode — or even anticipate — consumer preferences.