If you’ve paid attention to the consumer technology space over the past few years, then you know just how much talk there has been surrounding smart home products. Ever since the terms “connected devices” and “internet of things” were coined, the anticipation surrounding smart home tech has been palpable.
Every year, for perhaps the last seven or eight years, some notable figure or publication has claimed smart home technology will finally take off. However, up until 2017, there hasn’t been a massive boom. Sure, sales have slowly increased, but there wasn’t any significant adoption in the marketplace over the past few years. This year, things are changing – but why?
Smart Home Market Finally Ready for a Boom
Between this year and 2022, data from Zion Market Research shows that the global smart home market will grow at a CAGR of 14.5 percent. That’s an increase from $24.10 billion in revenue in 2016 to $53.45 billion in 2022.
But why now? What is it about this year that finally marks the point where adoption rates will increase by a substantial amount? (Hint: It doesn’t have anything to do with the technology.)
If you’ve kept an eye on the smart home tech space, then you know that sophisticated technology has been available for a number of years. It’s not that 2017 is when new gadgets finally became available. It’s not even that these gadgets are now available at friendlier price points. The real reason for the turning point is far less sexy and has to do with proper consumer education.
Up until this point, brands haven’t done a good job of connecting with consumers. There have been questions about which devices do what, how devices communicate with one another, what sort of price point makes sense, and whether new updates will render existing solutions obsolete.
“The consumers today are incredibly confused as to what's the value that they’re getting,” explains Blake Kozak, principal analyst at HIS Markit. “A consumer could be spending upwards of $1,000 if they go to the retail market and they don't understand what's the value. Are they getting energy savings? Is it simply fun and they're not going to want to use it in a couple weeks' time?”
These technologies exist to change the way consumers live their lives, but there’s been a huge disconnect between the innovation and what customers understand.
“What the large players in the market like a Comcast, AT&T, and security providers like Vivint, what these companies can do is provide more marketing and provide more opportunities for consumers to use these products first hand,” Kozak says.
It appears that we’re finally at a point where this educational experience is happening. Skybell, the brand behind one of the market’s leading doorbell cameras, is a great example. Their product page doesn’t just list a bunch of specs and highlight rave reviews from customers – it actually provides a clear explanation of what the product does and how it works – in an easy-to-understand, 90-second video.
Then there’s Amazon, which has quietly rolled out an in-home installation service that connects consumers with smart home consultants who can provide suggestions, installation, and tutorials. It’s currently only available in select markets, but look for more options to emerge later this year and into 2018.
4 Tips for Educating Customers on New Innovations
Clearly, the smart home technology market has endured a bit of a learning curve in terms of what it takes to properly educate consumers in advance of adoption. But it doesn’t matter what tech niche you’re in – there are lessons for you to learn.
As you seek to educate your customers on new innovations, you may find the following tips helpful:
1. Keep Things Simple
The number one rule is to keep things simple. As sales expert Jill Konrath notes, customers are scared of change and you have to make it easy for them to welcome change into their lives.
You might have the software that makes it possible to do X, Y, and Z right now – but perhaps the best thing you can do is create a software that only does X. The majority of people are slow adopters and respond better when change happens in steps.
2. Explain the Value
People want to know what value your product offers them, not what features it has. Using the example of the doorbell camera, people don’t care about the refresh rates and resolution. What they do care about is the fact that a high-quality video feed allows them to recognize faces and keep their families safe.
3. Eliminate Friction
You need to eliminate as many points of friction as you possibly can in the process of learning about your technology (and purchasing it). When customers learn about your product, they should be able to easily purchase it right away.
This is why product demonstrations work well. There’s nothing like showing someone how the product works and then selling it to them on the spot. It prevents them from overthinking the situation and forgetting about it as time passes.
4. Learn From Feedback
It’s easy to get frustrated with customers or clients without really understanding what’s making them tick. This is especially true for companies involved in B2B tech or software sales.
“If a client is unwilling to take an hour to do something, they may be too busy. If a client is unwilling to take 5 minutes, then that should be a signal about the value that this client sees in what you’re doing,” entrepreneur John Prendergast explains. “Double down on your communication, clarify and try again.”
If you aren’t actively listening to your customers and gathering feedback, then you’ll resort to frustration over problem-solving. For best results, gather information and learn from it.
Slow and Steady Wins the Consumer
Smart home technology isn’t a new niche – it’s been around for over a decade. However, it’s finally realizing its potential thanks to an investment in proper education from the business side of things.
Whether you’re involved in smart home technology, B2B software, mobile apps, or anything in between, there’s tremendous value in knowing how to educate customers.
As is typically the case in life and business, slow and steady is the best strategy.