UK households are increasingly adopting the smart home experience, according to the third report from EY’s annual digital home survey of 2,500 UK consumers. The report, which focuses on the connected home, finds that nearly a quarter (22 per cent) of households currently own a voice-controlled digital home assistant, double the figure from 2017 (11 per cent), and 41 per cent of households plan to own one over the next five years.
Among smart home appliances, utility-based products are particularly popular with 12 per cent of households surveyed owning a smart heating device (up from 8 per cent in 2017) and 11 per cent owning a smart lighting device (up from 7 per cent in 2017). Over the next five years 41 per cent and 36 per cent of households, respectively, say they plan to own these products. Ownership of smart security devices has risen to 9 per cent, from 7 per cent in 2017, and 37 per cent of households expect to own one within five years.
Connected white goods rank further down the list of priorities with 6 per cent and 5 per cent of households currently owning a smart washing machine and smart fridge, respectively, and 19 per cent planning to own either product over the next five years.
Adrian Baschnonga, Global Lead Telecommunications Analyst, EY says: “Smart home adoption rates are encouraging, with virtual assistants really striking a chord with consumers over the past year. Entry-level products continue to come down in price, helping to put smart home tech within reach of more and more households”
Security a big issue for consumers
According to the report, 71 per cent of households are concerned about the ability of hackers to access internet connected appliances or security products. In addition, more than two thirds (68 per cent) of households are concerned about what personal data is captured and shared by smart home devices. Moreover, more than half (53 per cent) of households do not believe that smart home technology can ever be secure.
Adrian Baschnonga adds: “Consumer anxieties could derail the smart home growth story. Perceived security flaws allied to discomfort around how personal data is captured by voice-activated devices are top of mind for many households. These concerns are unlikely to fade any time soon, meaning service providers must take new steps to reassure both existing smart home users and would-be users.”
Security is not the only issue worrying consumers, as 40 per cent of households surveyed are not confident in setting up or installing an internet connected household devices in their home.
Broadband providers preferred destination for purchasing smart home products
As households warm to an ever-broader range of smart home products there is also a growing number of places to buy these products. Broadband providers lead the way as the preferred supplier for smart home products with 37 per cent, utility companies score 10 per cent and household appliance manufacturers score 8 per cent.
Smart home providers need to strengthen consumer awareness
Praveen Shankar, EY’s Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications for the UK & Ireland, says: “Our report shows that current and predicted levels of smart home adoption are encouraging for service providers. However, only 49 per cent of households are familiar with the features and benefits of these products, which is the same figure as in 2017. If providers can increase this awareness there could be an even a greater opportunity for growth. Service providers need to not only raise awareness of the benefits of connected home products, but also address consumer concerns around security and privacy to reach the next level of adoption.”