Naomi Palmer, Category Director, Retail Marketing Group
Aside from indulging in chocolate and seeing loved ones, the Easter period is also the time of year when people in the UK will be most likely to invest in home renovation. This has been amplified by Brexit, which has created uncertainty and a lack of confidence in the UK housing market, as highlighted by a study by the Building Societies Association in December 2018.
Amidst this, we can expect to see far more UK homeowners investing in the latest home technology, instead of relocating. As such, the time is now for smart home technology vendors to recognise the opportunity to turn its early successes in 2018, into its full potential to transform the faces of homes across the world.
Smart home technology has begun to establish itself as the home technology of the moment. In fact, such is the optimism for this market, it is forecast to reach a global value of over £127 billion by 2026.
However, a lack of knowledge amongst UK shoppers is seriously threatening to undermine this progress. Specifically, we have seen shoppers overwhelmed by the availability of options, and they are apprehensive about how to really achieve a purchase that is both value for money and right for them.
In order to overcome this obstacle, it is paramount for consumer electronics brands to realise the value of the consumer experience in bricks and mortar stores and out-of-home advertising (OOH), where people can interactively engage with products in a more ‘life-like’ setting than the traditional retail environment. Specifically, the best way to achieve this is through brand ambassadors who can prove to be the difference between a lack of customer engagement and long-term relationships.
The home of the future
So, what is smart home technology and how is it transforming the modern home? Well, through the Internet of Things (IoT), homeowners are being offered the ability to have far greater management of electric appliances.
By simply pressing a button, we can now perform a plethora of activities, from controlling our home security to operating the heating and lighting of our living rooms. Smart home technology even has the intelligence to understand your patterns of behaviour and to use this information to provide a tailored experience.
As a result, modern homes are already transitioning into futuristic hubs whereby the homeowner will enjoy not just cool gizmos to show off to friends, but a gateway into a life of superior convenience.
Whilst the smart home market has already ushered in a range of innovations such as smart speakers, smart doorbells and smart lightbulbs, we expect the next stage of innovation to see greater kitchen products including fridges and ovens. No longer required to manually control our kitchen appliances, these next-generation smart ovens and fridges will let you do things like deciding the temperature of your fridges and ovens from your phones! Thus, providing the potential for a far less stressful kitchen experience!
Overall therefore, homeowners this Easter have plenty of great products to explore and get excited about when looking for the next buy that will rejuvenate their houses.
Overwhelmed and frustrated
Despite this array of impressive products for Easter shoppers to indulge in, there is however one clear issue that may threaten to undermine the smart home technology revolution. Through lack of understanding, many consumers are still reluctant to embrace this transition into innovation.
With these products now stemming into the thousands of pounds and this technology being such a new concept for so many, perhaps this apprehension is hardly surprising. We’ve consistently noticed that shoppers are unable to truly gauge how these products will offer value in their daily lives and this is directly hampering sales of this cutting-edge technology.
In the face of this, consumer technology providers must find a way to overcome this sense of confusion and uncertainty to ensure that the smart home market is able to fulfil its exciting potential and not fall short of the mark. But how?
The role of in-store brand ambassadors
They can achieve this by investing in brand ambassadors who intimately understand the technology, so that they can guide shoppers on their purchase journey by building personal connections. Through product demonstrations and tailored information, bricks and mortar stores are no longer simply a place to store goods. Instead, it becomes an interactive centre and a place of fun. This creates an emotional connection with the shopper that leads to trust and long-term brand loyalty.
To go even further in the pursuit of an engaging experience, retailers can reap the benefits of investing in outdoor advertising, such as a pop-up experience at a shopping centre. By bringing smart technology to life in this way and promoting it to people that may have previously neglected smart home technology, the opportunities for this technology to thrive are even greater. Who better to do this than brand-ambassadors? Armed with people skills and an ability to tailor their extensive information to the needs of each shopper that passes by, far more shoppers will be allowed to understand the value of this exciting technology.
By offering much-needed clarity in such an emerging market like the smart home technology, customers will be able to overcome the often-overwhelming hordes of information online to make the best possible purchase decision. The future of customer experience strategies must be shaped by identifying opportunities to promote greater satisfaction, personalisation and engagement.
Ultimately, the headlines have continued to be dominated by gloomy predictions about the future of the high street, however there is still a way for bricks and mortar stores to thrive and flourish in this Easter period.
By captivating the customer’s attention in this way, the rise of the smart home technology will change from a vision to a reality.