#SES2016: In the Race for the Smart Home... Is It a Fight for the Customer?

Posted by Lauren Bell on February 25, 2016 at 7:41 PM

SES16-Twitter-Profile-400X400“The next big value of unlocking will not be in new products, but will be in the consumers and why they should care.”

-Vice President of Products for WeMo/Belkin at the Smart Energy Summit

At this week’s Smart Energy Summit, we talked with everyone from electric and gas utilities to solar and security providers to retailers to product and software developers… you name it.

One thing is clear: everyone is competing for the home. And therein, the customer.

We talked a lot about this customer. Who they are. What they want. What they value. Here’s what we know:

  • They’re increasingly more tech savvy.
  • Their top value drivers are safety and security, then convenience and control.
  • They want products and services that make their lives easier. (Who doesn’t?)
  • When it comes to energy programs… They’re unsure. Unfamiliar. (Less than 25% claim to be familiar with rebates. And the numbers only drop for other programs.)
  • Savings help rationalize the purchase or participation, but it’s not as strong of a motivator as the industry might wish.
  • They know it’s valid and useful to have information around consumption, but it’s too much for most customers. They’re not engaging with that aspect.
  • They want to be engaged both emotionally and rationally – the brands winning the space have figured this out.

And when it comes to the smart home, they’re not really sure who to trust. Think about all of the different touch points, products and programs they’re currently being sold... All of which are making the same promise: Lower your energy bill. Add convenience to your life. Control your home.

Some energy providers are offering smart product rebates, tools, calculators and DR for energy monitoring and automation. Customers can log into their account or app to track their usage, determine a problem and ideally, be served a solution.

Solar companies are doing an incredible job of providing the right tools (off the bat) with customers allowing them to engage and control their homes in more ways than just consumption.

XfinityHome is offering customers a seamless integration of smart home devices from the thermostat and lights to the locks and even the water.

Big retailers like Lowes are selling a sea of smart home devices and a home management system, Iris, allowing you to sync your smart devices and control them from one app.

Nest continues to wow customers with their beautiful and intuitive products that sync perfectly. (And with other brands.) They’re even syncing their products to peak load times. Automating DR through the Nest thermostat. And while the utility is providing the financial credit… Is the customer left more impressed with their beautiful thermostat, than satisfied with their utility? (Perhaps…)

The challenge for the customer? They have to make a choice. And that choice may exclude future choices.

The challenge for the industry? The customer has to make a choice… And it might not be you.

They want products or services that make their lives easier…. But not a phone full of apps. Not different systems or devices that have to be cross-referenced or can’t talk to each other.

The conversation at SES touched on this friction. Everyone wants what is best for the customer. But everyone also has to do what’s best for their own business. And this world is so new… That can feel unknown. This is where the divide happens.

In this race for the home… Are you selling the ‘right’ value proposition for your product or program?

How are you getting customers to care? We ask because if you’re not… Someone else is.

That’s where we come in. Let’s get started.

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Interested in talking about the customer and the connected home? Interested in our latest research based insights? Get in touch?

Lauren Bell / Engagement Manager / lbell@ksvc.com / 212.366.4000

Topics: customer demands, Customer Engagement, Customer Insight, communications, connected home, energy efficiency, Energy Wire, Intelligent Efficiency, IoT, KSV research, #SES2016, Smart Home, smart products

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