National Study Underscores Consumers’ Need for Control When Considering “Smart” Technology

Posted by: jillw in: Technology -

  • Smart home is mainstream; three out of 10 want robots to handle their chores at home
  • Excitement for health-tracking technology far outweighs anticipation for self-driving cars
  • Cost outweighs privacy concerns by 3x in smart home purchases

Feeling in control plays an important role in the decision to adopt connected technology, according to a new Finn Futures™ survey conducted by Finn Partners’ global technology practice (LANE is a Finn Partners company). The national poll looked at consumer sentiment toward smart homes, devices, and self-driving cars, and found varying levels of excitement and concern for these technologies.

“Emotion plays an important role when it comes to consumers’ willingness to adopt connected technology,” said Sabrina Horn, managing partner, U.S. technology practice, Finn Partners. “People want to feel in control of their lives and of their loved ones’ well-being, so it isn’t surprising that we always see peace-of-mind as the top motivator in smart home adoption. Communications professionals need to help brands and other connected technology sectors tap into this finding with more visually-oriented and multi-faceted market awareness campaigns.”

Driverless car or “driverless” vacuum cleaner?

While autonomous vehicles are creating a lot of news right now, consumers are not fully on board with the concept yet.

  • When presented with a scale from zero to 10, with zero meaning “not excited at all” and 10 meaning “extremely excited,” a majority (59 percent) of Americans chose a number of five or lower. Only 15 percent of Americans say they are “extremely excited.”
  • Excitement for autonomous vehicles is higher among younger audiences. Americans under the age of 45 were more likely to give a response between 6 and 10 (56 percent), with one-quarter (24 percent) giving a 9 or 10.
  • Interestingly, while data shows Americans are not clamoring to automate the driving experience, household chores are another story – three out of 10 want robots to handle household activities such as folding laundry or vacuuming, making chores the second most desirable smart home feature next to home security.

Concern over nascent technology

“Nascent technology – like autonomous vehicles – can evoke feelings of risk and loss of control, so it’s not surprising to see that privacy and security are top concerns,” said Horn. “Marketers need to take a measured approach to reaching potential customers simply because of the degree to which these new technologies can change how people live. For example, communicators should avoid fear-based or threat-centered campaigns and opt for more positive messages of safety and well-being as consumers adjust to the new normal.”

Connected technology is not one-size-fits-all or even dependent on age when it comes to challenges faced. When asked about concerns:

  • Americans were three times as likely to cite cost (59 percent) as a barrier to smart home technology as they were to cite privacy concerns (20 percent).
  • Younger Americans are more likely to cite privacy concerns – 26 percent under the age of 45 cited privacy/security as a concern whereas only 16 percent of people over 45 had the same concerns.
  • The top concern about self-driving cars was the loss of “feeling in control” over the vehicle (42 percent), followed by worries of vulnerability to hacking (30 percent) and expense (25 percent).
  • More than one out of five Americans are “very worried” (22 percent) their phone will be hacked, with another 37 percent “somewhat worried.”

People are highly interested in giving doctors direct online access to health information

Consumers are interested (70 percent) in allowing their doctors to monitor their health remotely, a trend that increases among younger Americans.

  • 81 percent of those under the age of 45 are interested in learning more about this access technology and sharing data with their doctors.
  • Of those who expressed the highest level of interest – “very” interested:
    • Close to half (47 percent) of those 18-24 years old
    • 44 percent of those with children under 18
    • 43 percent of both African Americans and Hispanic Americans

Overall, smart home is no longer a futuristic concept

Smart home has come a long way in a few short years. In 2014, a white paper from the Consumer Electronics Association and Park Associates reported that two-thirds of consumers with broadband are not very familiar with smart home services or products or where to buy them. The Finn Futures survey showed that 86 percent of consumers “are confident they know what it means when someone says they have a smart home” – a huge leap in awareness over the last three years.

  • 77 percent think it will be normal to have a robot in their home within 20 years.
  • Locks/doors (55 percent), thermostat (44 percent) and lighting (41 percent) ranked among the top three features people would value most in a smart home. By comparison, voice-controlled assistant (22 percent) and entertainment (25 percent) lagged behind.
  • Demographics matter when it comes to what people would most like to automate in their homes, meaning an internet-enabled device would do it for them. Those with the highest incomes are especially likely to say “home security” is a top priority (40 percent). Younger Americans (36 percent) and women (35 percent) cite “laundry/cleaning” more often, while men are more likely to say “home environment” (22 percent).

About the Survey

The Finn Futures survey, from Finn Partners, was conducted online recently among a representative sample of 1,000 Americans, and is part of an ongoing initiative by the company to assess attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors in public affairs and other areas of critical importance to consumers. The data was weighed slightly to ensure it was representative of the U.S. adult population. Full results of the survey are available upon request.

About Finn Partners, Inc.

Founded in 2011 on the core principles of innovation and collaborative partnership, Finn Partners has tripled in size in just five years, becoming one of the fastest growing independent public relations agencies in the world. The full-service marketing and communications company’s record-setting pace is a result of organic growth and integrating new companies and new people into the Finn Partners world through a common philosophy. Finn Partners’ mantra, Work Hard, Play Nice, infuses internal and external relationships, resulting in amazing work and an all-inclusive environment. With 540 professionals, Finn Partners provides its clients with global access and capabilities in the U.S., Europe and Asia, in addition to PROI Worldwide. Headquartered in New York, Finn Partners’ other offices are located in: Chicago, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Jerusalem, London, Los Angeles, Munich, Nashville, Paris, Portland, San Francisco, Singapore, and Washington D.C. Find us at finnpartners.com and follow us on Twitter @finnpartners.

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