Tuesday, 09 July 2019 11:19

Australians still hesitant about adopting smart home technology: report

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Shopping from home using technology Shopping from home using technology Image Silatip, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Australians’ attitudes towards smart home technology means it will be some time yet before it is fully adopted, with the younger generation of Australians — those aged between 18 and 34 — concerned about the impact of technology in their homes, according to a new research report.

And according to the research, by Accenture, more than half (58%) of the younger generation reported they are dependent on technology, with 55% stating they are addicted to technology – and 53% of the opinion that technology is intrusive in terms of having access to personal data.

The report — “Putting the Human First in the Future Home” — looks at consumer behaviours and routines and how the influence of emerging technology impacts their identity and motivations and the tensions that arise.

Accenture says that, significantly, the research reveals the habits and hesitations of Australians toward buying smart home technology.

The research reveals that 70% of those surveyed wait for others to try new devices and services before buying, while considerations are largely based on cost – with 64% looking at the price of the device, ahead of functionality (42%) and ease of use (40%).

“Interestingly, only then do Australians consider what brand they’re purchasing, with just a quarter (25%) considering the reputation of the brand they’re buying from before purchasing,” Accenture notes.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • Home life is becoming more important for Australian consumers: half of those surveyed (55%) now spend more time in their homes while only 9% say they spend less time in their homes.
  • This differs across geographies with two thirds (65%) of consumers in Brazil believing they now spend more time in their home – the highest level observed in the research. Meanwhile Chinese consumers are more likely to spend less time in their home than consumers in any other country at 43%.
  • Fifty-eight percent describe their homes as “comfortable/cosy” and only 38% describe it as “safe/secure”.
  • Meanwhile over seven in ten consumers (72%) use “relaxed” to describe how their home makes them feel.

Jonathan Restarick, Communications, Media and Technology lead at Accenture in Australia and New Zealand, said: “The future home should be built around people first. There is a significant opportunity to develop strong future offerings that are built to enhance our lifestyles”.

“But success requires brands to think differently about product design, with specific focus on seamlessly supporting the household.”

According to Restarick, Australian attitudes toward smart home technology signify it’s still a battle between help and hindrance, with the research identifying “several tension polarities around technology in the home, the strongest being that smart devices make us feel more connected but also more isolated”.

Accenture says that for half of Australian respondents (51%), technology at home makes them lazy, while over half (57%) say it makes them feel isolated – and nearly half of Australians (48%) surveyed find technology at home intrusive, and 42% consider it addictive.

The research also reveals that more than 70% of people recognise that technology at home makes life easier, from preparing food and ordering groceries online, to controlling their home climate and environment.

And it’s also revealed that there is positive sentiment toward smart home technology – 63% of Australians agree that it makes them more connected, while almost six in ten (59%) agree that it makes their home life more fun.

“Consumers need to rationalise the tensions created by their relationship with technology, especially around dependency, intrusiveness, and isolation,” says Restarick.

“While many brands can sell smart-home products that make people feel more connected, those brands that deliver real value in the future home are the ones that allay their customers concerns about feeling isolated, or intruded on in the modern technological environment.”

Accenture says that as future home owners and potential smart-home customers, younger generations are crucial markets.

And conversely, many brands understanding of this group’s anxieties around technology is limited – while those aged 65 and over emerge as an avenue for opportunity.

The research found that:

  • The youngest respondents are the most negative about the way technology is affecting their lives. Over half (58%) of 18 to 34 year olds worry that they are too dependent on technology, while 46% of respondents in this age group are also fearful that smart devices in their homes know too much about them. Rationalising the fears of the 18-34 consumer will be vital to the product design strategy of the future.
  • By contrast, the group most positive and trusting of technology are those aged 65 years and over – precisely the part of the market that many technology companies have been neglecting. This group see smart devices as making life easier (61%), more fun (53%) and keeping them connected (61%). Their fears around the isolating effects of technology are lower than any other age group (46%) and just 36% of this sector perceive technology as making them lazy. Interestingly, less than a fifth (19%) of the respondents in this group are worried about the addictive nature of technology, the lowest across all age groups.
  • Families living with children have more concerns about technology at home – 63% think it is addictive, makes them dependent (70%) and lazy (68%), while those without kids have an even less positive attitude toward technology – only 48% say it’s fun, and 24^% say it makes them feel in control.

“Companies need to recognise that there are times when consumers want more technology in their lives, and times that they don’t,” Restasrick said.

“For example, we are seeing consumers favour technology where they can set limits on the devices to prevent over exposure. Brands must also recognise the need for a delicate balance of customer personalisation and privacy.

“Now more than ever customers are seeking a unique experience but also transparency around how their data is being used and if it is secure. Success is ensuring the technology is seen as helping the household more than the provider.“

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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