Consumers Beginning To Embrace Smart Home Technology – Even If They Don’t Know It Yet

Majority expects newly built homes to include smart home technology within the next five years

11:00 AM EDT Sep 10, 2015 Rating
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Consumers Beginning To Embrace Smart Home Technology – Even If They Don’t Know It Yet

NEW YORK, N.Y. – From wireless speakers to automated vacuum cleaners, advanced “smart” devices are becoming increasingly common in the homes of Americans, aiming to make life simpler for all. However, language counts for a great deal when it comes to consumer attitudes and familiarity; nearly two thirds (64%) of Americans say they don’t know much about smart home technology, while Nielsen’s Connected Life Report – a bi-annual study of consumer needs, preferences, attitudes, and behaviors around new and emerging technologies related to connected cars, homes, and wearables – finds that just over half of household decision makers (53%) say they know what connected home technology does.

This confusion may, however, be rooted in category headings more than in specific products. When asked generically about smart home technology, just 7% of Americans say they own such a device; however, when presented more specifically with a list of devices from the smart home category, 34% of Americans – nearly five times as many – indicate they already have at least one in their home. This disconnect signals a need for consumer engagement and education in this budding industry.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,225 adults surveyed online between May 20 and 26, 2015.

Self-described early adopters are more likely than their counterparts to have one or more devices in their homes (59% vs. 37% mid adopters & 20% late adopters).

The most popular devices currently owned are wireless speaker systems (17%), smart thermostats (11%), and smart/wireless home security and monitoring systems (9%), with many of the same devices making repeat appearances atop the list of devices Americans would consider for future purchases: smart thermostats (40%), smart lighting (37%), wireless speaker systems (35%) and smart/wireless home security and monitoring systems (35%).

Consumers appear hesitant to purchase certain devices despite respectable awareness levels, indicating there may be ample room to better communicate the benefits of these devices. Nearly half (48%) say they’ve heard of smart home security systems and don’t want one, while nearly six in ten (58%) say the same about domestic robots and 46% say the same for smart/connected refrigerators.

On the other hand, for several devices, the largest barrier appears to be awareness itself. Over half (51%) have never heard of water detectors that connect to Wi-Fi and 42% say the same for smart/connected laundry machines.

With 88% of Americans believing these devices are too expensive, it should come as no surprise that, when probed on potential “tipping points” when they will be likely to consider purchasing such technology, the highest percentage by a wide margin (37%) say they will consider purchasing smart home technology when it drops to a price they think is reasonable. Another 9% will wait until the “bugs” have been worked out and 12% will never consider buying smart home technology.

Notably, two in ten (21%) Americans are not sure at what point they would consider purchasing this kind of technology – further signaling confusion in this still-new market segment. 

Potential perks

A majority of Americans believe there are perks for homeowners in smart home technology, with over six in ten (61%) saying household devices that can connect to the Internet are good for homeowners.

Vast majorities of adults feel it’s important that smart home technology saves money (91%), conserves energy (90%), helps keep them and/or their family safe (89%), and protects property from theft/vandalism (88%).

Three quarters of Americans also feel it is important that this technology save them time (78%) and offer the ability to adjust to their preferences and behaviors (74%), while just 42% each say the technology currently offers these benefits. Americans are nearly split on whether it’s important that the technology enable them to better care for pets (55% important vs. 45% not important) and reducing the likelihood of running out of household products (53% important vs. 47% not important), which is good considering less than two in ten feel the technology offers these benefits (17% & 18%, respectively).

Regardless of the status of these current and potential benefits, many Americans believe smart home technology will start to have an impact on them within the next five years. Over half (51%) say smart home technology will improve their quality of life within the next five years and 43% say it will have a big impact on how they manage their home within the next five years. Education efforts focused on more clearly communicating and demonstrating the benefits of these devices may help to drive further consumer excitement.

Remaining questions and concerns

While it may be clear what the expected and perceived benefits are, with 78% of Americans saying they expect newly built homes to include smart home technology within the next five years, it’s no surprise that some concerns still remain. Seven in ten Americans believe smart home technology makes it easier to steal personal information/data (71%) and wonder whether smart home devices will perform basic functions as well as their traditional counterparts do (70%).

Despite the concerns and questions that exist, most Americans clearly believe this technology is on its way and here to stay, with less than three in ten (27%) doubting that smart technology will catch on.

 

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TABLE 1

TIME TO CONSIDER “SMART HOME” TECHNOLOGY

By Generation & Adopter Status

 “Now we’d like to ask you about household devices and appliances with enhanced computer technology and, in many cases, the ability to connect to a computer or mobile device as well as to communicate with one another – collectively this category of devices is commonly known as “smart home” technology.

Thinking about this category overall, which of the following best describes at what point, if ever, you will be likely to consider purchasing “smart home” technology?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Adopter Status

Millennials (18-37)

Generation X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Early adopters

Mid adopters

Late adopters

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

When it drops to a price I think is reasonable.

37

42

40

33

23

32

42

25

When I believe the “bugs” have been worked out.

9

10

11

9

6

11

11

4

When I read or hear positive feedback from people using it.

7

10

5

7

6

11

9

3

When it includes features I can’t get anywhere else.

4

6

4

3

4

13

4

2

When my favorite tech manufacturer offers it.

2

3

1

*

2

8

1

1

I already own at least one type of “smart home” technology.

7

8

8

7

5

15

7

5

I will never consider buying “smart home” technology.

12

6

10

17

20

3

7

25

Not sure

21

15

22

25

33

8

17

34

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

 

 


 

TABLE 2a

EXPERIENCES WITH SMART DEVICES/APPLIANCES

Grid Summary

 “Thinking specifically about the following devices and appliances, please select the statement which best describes your experience with each.”

Base: All adults

 

I have this in my home.

I’ve heard of this and am interested in purchasing it.

I’ve heard of this and am not interested in purchasing it.

I’ve never heard of this.

%

%

%

%

Wireless speaker systems

17

35

39

9

Smart thermostats

11

40

39

11

Smart/Wireless home security and monitoring systems

9

35

48

9

Domestic robots (e.g., vacuum, lawnmower)

8

22

58

12

Smoke/CO2 detectors that connect to WIFI/The Internet

6

27

31

36

Smart lighting

6

37

41

16

Home energy use monitors

5

31

44

20

Smart door locks

4

31

43

22

Smart/Connected refrigerator

4

18

46

32

Smart/Connected laundry machines

4

15

38

42

Water detectors that connect to WIFI/The Internet

2

15

32

51

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

 


 

TABLE 2b

EXPERIENCES WITH SMART DEVICES/APPLIANCES

Summary of “Have this in my home”

By Generation & Adopter Status

“Thinking specifically about the following devices and appliances, please select the statement which best describes your experience with each.”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Adopter Status

Millennials (18-37)

Generation X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Early adopters

Mid adopters

Late adopters

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Have one or more device in home (NET)

34

38

34

29

34

59

37

20

Wireless speaker systems

17

19

18

17

11

40

19

7

Smart thermostats

11

9

12

10

15

25

11

7

Smart/Wireless home security and monitoring systems

9

12

8

6

10

25

9

5

Domestic robots (e.g., vacuum, lawnmower)

8

15

3

3

6

23

7

5

Smoke/CO2 detectors that connect to WIFI/The Internet

6

10

3

4

5

13

6

4

Smart lighting

6

8

7

3

4

24

5

2

Home energy use monitors

5

8

5

4

3

18

6

2

Smart door locks

4

7

4

2

3

22

3

2

Smart/Connected refrigerator

4

8

2

2

1

19

3

2

Smart/Connected laundry machines

4

8

2

1

2

15

3

3

Water detectors that connect to WIFI/The Internet

2

3

3

1

1

12

1

1

 


 

TABLE 3a

IMPORTANCE OF “SMART HOME” TECHNOLOGY BENEFITS

Grid Summary

 “Thinking about household devices like those just described, which can learn/monitor household patterns/needs and can be accessed remotely – something referred to as “smart home” technology – how important, if at all, do you believe it is that “smart home” technology should provide each of the following benefits or features?”

Base: All adults

 

VERY/ SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT (NET)

Very important

Somewhat important

NOT AT ALL/ NOT VERY IMPORTANT (NET)

Not very important

Not at all important

%

%

%

%

%

%

Saves money

91

66

25

9

4

5

Conserves energy

90

60

30

10

5

5

Helps keep me and/or my family safe

89

60

29

11

4

6

Protects property from theft/vandalism

88

58

30

12

5

7

Saves time

78

39

39

22

13

9

Ability to adjust to my preferences and behaviors

74

35

40

26

14

12

Makes spending time at home more enjoyable

71

34

38

29

16

12

Ability to control with a variety of devices

70

30

41

30

15

14

Enables me to better care for children or elderly relatives

65

33

32

35

14

20

Ability to communicate with other smart devices within the household

64

26

38

36

20

16

Enables me to better care for pets

55

25

30

45

16

29

Reduces likelihood of running out of household products

53

19

34

47

26

21

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding


 

TABLE 3b

IMPORTANCE OF “SMART HOME” TECHNOLOGY BENEFITS

Summary of “Very/Somewhat Important (NET)”

By Generation & Adopter Status

 “Thinking about household devices like those just described, which can learn/monitor household patterns/needs and can be accessed remotely – something referred to as “smart home” technology – how important, if at all, do you believe it is that “smart home” technology should provide each of the following benefits or features?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Adopter Status

Millennials (18-37)

Generation X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Early adopters

Mid adopters

Late adopters

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Saves money

91

94

87

93

87

85

94

87

Conserves energy

90

91

88

90

91

84

93

86

Helps keep me and/or my family safe

89

91

86

89

89

87

92

83

Protects property from theft/vandalism

88

90

85

90

86

91

91

82

Saves time

78

88

78

75

58

87

81

69

Ability to adjust to my preferences and behaviors

74

81

75

72

60

81

79

63

Makes spending time at home more enjoyable

71

80

73

65

60

77

75

63

Ability to control with a variety of devices

70

77

73

66

58

86

76

55

Enables me to better care for children or elderly relatives

65

80

68

55

46

74

67

60

Ability to communicate with other smart devices within the household

64

75

66

58

47

81

68

51

Enables me to better care for pets

55

69

57

47

30

73

55

50

Reduces likelihood of running out of household products

53

66

55

43

42

74

54

47

 


 

TABLE 4

CURRENT BENEFITS OF “SMART HOME” TECHNOLOGY

By Generation & Adopter Status

 “And, based on what you know about “smart home” technology, which of these benefits or features, if any, are currently offered by such devices? Please select all that apply.”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Adopter Status

Millennials (18-37)

Generation X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Early adopters

Mid adopters

Late adopters

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Conserves energy

59

54

58

65

56

48

64

51

Protects property from theft/vandalism

57

52

50

65

59

50

62

48

Helps keep me and/or my family safe

55

54

51

60

52

50

60

46

Ability to control with a variety of devices

51

51

49

55

45

55

55

42

Saves money

50

54

49

48

41

52

54

39

Ability to adjust to my preferences and behaviors

42

44

38

46

34

42

47

32

Ability to communicate with other smart devices within the household

42

39

37

47

44

45

45

34

Saves time

42

51

33

41

32

46

45

34

Makes spending time at home more enjoyable

27

34

22

26

16

31

30

20

Enables me to better care for children or elderly relatives

25

27

18

28

21

26

26

21

Reduces likelihood of running out of household products

18

21

16

18

14

26

19

13

Enables me to better care for pets

17

19

15

19

11

36

17

14

None of these

14

10

16

14

26

9

11

23

 


 

TABLE 5a

AGREEMENT WITH “SMART HOME” TECHNOLOGY STATEMENTS

Grid Summary

 “How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

Base: All adults

 

STRONGLY/ SOMEWHAT AGREE (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

STRONGLY/ SOMEWHAT DISAGREE (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

%

%

%

%

%

%

The devices are too expensive.

88

47

41

12

9

3

I expect newly built homes to include “smart home” technology within the next five years.

78

23

55

22

15

7

“Smart home” technology makes it easier to steal personal information/data.

71

25

46

29

24

6

I wonder whether “smart home” devices will perform basic functions as well as traditional models do (e.g., vs. traditional refrigerator, thermostat).

70

18

51

30

21

9

I don’t know much about “smart home” technology.

64

26

39

36

25

10

I think household devices that can connect to the Internet are good for homeowners.

61

14

47

39

28

11

“Smart home” technology will improve my quality of life within the next five years.

51

10

41

49

31

18

“Smart home” technology will have a big impact on how I manage my home within the next five years.

43

10

33

57

31

26

I don’t think “smart home” technology will catch on.

27

6

21

73

46

27

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

 


 

TABLE 5b

AGREEMENT WITH “SMART HOME” TECHNOLOGY STATEMENTS

Summary of “Strongly/Somewhat Agree (NET)”

By Generation & Adopter Status

“How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Adopter Status

Millennials (18-37)

Generation X (38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures (69+)

Early adopters

Mid adopters

Late adopters

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

The devices are too expensive.

88

87

88

89

91

79

89

90

I expect newly built homes to include “smart home” technology within the next five years.

78

78

78

78

77

92

81

69

“Smart home” technology makes it easier to steal personal information/data.

71

70

71

73

66

71

69

75

I wonder whether “smart home” devices will perform basic functions as well as traditional models do (e.g., vs. traditional refrigerator, thermostat).

70

69

65

73

72

67

69

72

I don’t know much about “smart home” technology.

64

62

61

65

76

41

61

78

I think household devices that can connect to the Internet are good for homeowners.

61

68

64

56

51

70

68

43

“Smart home” technology will improve my quality of life within the next five years.

51

59

54

44

40

77

57

31

“Smart home” technology will have a big impact on how I manage my home within the next five years.

43

50

49

38

26

68

49

25

I don’t think “smart home” technology will catch on.

27

26

27

29

28

38

22

36


 

TABLE 6

ADOPTER STATUS

 “Which statement best describes you?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

%

I typically wait to purchase new technology products until many of the people I know are using it.

34

I tend to wait to buy new technology products until someone like me has bought it and endorses it.

30

I am one of the last to buy new technology products until I absolutely have to.

29

I’m always the first to buy new technology products regardless of price and whether it is proven.

8

 


 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between May 20 and 26, 2015 among 2,225 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Connected Life Methodology

Connected Life provides manufacturers, developers, carriers, content providers and advertisers with an understanding of consumer needs, preferences, attitudes, and behaviors around new and emerging technologies related to connected cars, homes, and wearables. The Connected Life study is conducted online twice per year using a sample of 5,000 adults age 18+ who either currently use or are interested in at least one of the three connected life technologies: connected home, car and/or wearable technology.  

 

The Harris Poll® #53, September 10, 2015

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll 

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

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