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The Smart Home Grows—But by Who?

We are nearing the end of the year, which means a plethora or predictions from analysts’ firms about what is to come in the years ahead. For now, I would like to focus more on what is actually happening right now—specifically in the smart-home market.

For years, the question has always been: Who will drive the smart-home market? The vision displayed in science fiction movies always portrayed the ultra-rich as the leaders of high-tech, but the reality is a different group of people just might be leading the charge: young, tech-savvy, first-time owners.

At least this is the case for one product category, according to Parks Associates. The research firm’s latest consumer data shows 70% of households that purchased a smart thermostat in the past 12 months are first-time owners and the majority say they saved at least as much money as expected.

I would suggest the same would be true of the smart doorbell. Among people I know, homeowners my age and younger tend to be the biggest adopters of the technology. They also tend to be more likely to regularly use delivery services like Amazon and others, which often necessitates the need for a smart doorbell. According to Allied Market Research, by end user, the market is divided into residential and commercial. The residential segment has the largest smart doorbell marketshare.

Further, the analyst firm predicts growing concerns over safety and security among people is expected to increase the demand for smart doorbell and boost the growth of the smart doorbell market. Also, the rise in penetration of internet and increasing desire for controlling most amenities with one click are expected to promote sales of smart doorbells.

If we want to better understand who the primary consumer of the smart home will be, perhaps we need to first define the smart home.

As I am wondering who will drive the smart-home market, Erik Glassen, senior brand manager for Kwikset and Baldwin, is wondering, what exactly is a smart home. He asks, what exactly makes a smart home…a smart home? Is it homes that have at least one smart device? Is it homes with three or more devices? Is it homes where all of the main systems—lighting, security, shades, entertainment, heating/cooling—are interconnected? Or can it be just some of them?

These are all good questions to be asking. Because the consumer for each of these will likely be different. While a young Millennial or Gen Zer is very likely to buy at least one—or maybe even three—smart devices for their home, they are probably less likely to build new homes or buy homes where all of the main systems are interconnected. That level of connectivity comes with a greater cost. Whereas we all know Amazon and other large retailers have made it much easier to buy one-off smart-home products.

What are your thoughts? Who is currently driving adoption of smart homes? Is it mostly folks buying one-off products or is it consumers connecting all main systems in homes? What are some of the biggest hurdles to the latter? Is it the cost? Is it the lack of interoperability? Or is it something else altogether? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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