Connected Product Awareness Gets a Boost at Retail

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Among the trends for 2016 that we predicted earlier this year was that Connected Product Awareness Would Grow. Now just after the mid-point of the year, we are beginning to see evidence that suggests consumer IoT products indeed are finally getting a boost in at least one critical venue: at retail.

Connected Home Aisle at Best Buy
One indication of this happening can be seen at your local Best Buy. A year ago there were relatively few small in-store displays of IoT products to be found. Fast forward to today, and displays of smart lights, thermostats, video monitors, doorbells, and various other smart products abound in the aisles. Online Best Buy has created a “Connected Home and Housewares” category

Connected Home Section Online Best Buy
This trend at retail was documented in recent reporting by Chuck Martin, the author and columnist at IoT Daily on MediaPost, whose columns we often enjoy. Martin noted the transformation that is taking place at retail and verified it during conversations with industry execs at the recent IoT Marketing Forum held in New York. He reported that both manufacturers and marketers are gearing up for a very big IoT push for the holidays. And, as he noted, “…many holiday shoppers already will have heard or seen about some of these objects on TV, where promotions for smart home devices like Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo have been playing for some time.”

In fact, it was what was taking place at Target’s “Open House” retail concept store last year and the advent of Alexa commercials at the Super Bowl, which triggered us to predict a hike in awareness for consumer IoT this year. Because, as we noted in our earlier prediction column: when consumers can actually experience a product in real-time, that’s when they can see the value.

But how far down the path are we to realizing the Gartner prediction made in 2014, that the typical family home could be equipped with more than 500 smart devices by 2022?

As researcher Strategy Analytics assessed at the end of 2015 after surveying consumers in the US and UK: “While consumer awareness is currently low, interest is high particularly in solutions that help to solve existing real world problems…The idea of IoT making consumer life easier, more convenient and efficient is most appealing to consumers. Increasing education on existing IoT solutions in addition to future possibilities will drive both awareness and adoption.”

At Arrayent, we agree. And as we continually preach, consumers are not easily fooled: there has be real value inherent in a connected product, not just the connection. That includes real ease-of-use of these products—from set up through normal use—and interoperability with other smart devices (where it makes sense) in the home. As Arrayent creates “works with” compatibility between various ‘anchor’ consumer IoT platforms like Alexa and Nest, that’s a very positive step.

But even as consumer awareness rises, along with it will rise concerns over data usage, security and privacy—which will require industry vigilance, transparency and consumer education. And ultimately, will shake out those IoT platform providers who know how to properly handle security concerns and those who don’t.

Undoubtedly there’s still a lot of work to be done for the industry to achieve the grand vision and promise of the smart home, where every product is connected, intelligent, and part of an ecosystem that provides value outside of its intrinsic attributes. From Arrayent’s vantage point in mid-2016, we are seeing greater connected product awareness which may well indicate we are at a tipping point. Only time will tell. But it is our view that when the smart home actually happens, it will have become so one product and one great user experience at a time, not because consumers will wake up one day with an urge to boost their home’s I.Q. But that’s a subject for another day.

If you work at a consumer product brand and are responsible for creating the next wave of connected products, contact us to find out how we have helped the world’s most trusted brands launch over 65 connected products on five continents.  

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