YouGov 2021 smart home survey shows promise, but hesitation on the part of German and British consumers
Although interconnected smart home devices are not yet widespread in households, there is a great potential for growth in the future. This was shown in a recent representative survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH.
Results of the survey indicate while not yet mainstream, interest in such devices and their future use is quite high.
Leading the smart devices in use right now are those that control and monitor televisions, as well as audio and video devices in the home. 18% of respondents from the UK and 16% from Germany indicated they control consumer electronics products via apps. A further 30% in the UK and 25% in Germany expect to use such apps in the future.
In total, depending on the type of device, anywhere between 1% and 18% of households surveyed in Germany and the UK currently use smart home solutions. A larger number were interested in intelligent lighting control, where 30% of those surveyed in Germany could imagine themselves using such devices in the future.
“Voice assistants have well established themselves on the market in many forms, but the – actually logical – link with smart home functionality is far from common,” notes Dr Sara Warneke, Managing Director of gfu. She continues: “It is interesting to try to predict, based on the trends shown by research, the point at which voice control will become the norm in everyday life.”
Lamps and lighting
Many respondents were interested in controlling their lighting. In the UK, 11% already use smart lighting solutions, and another 36% expect to implement intelligent lighting control in the future. The figures in Germany are similar: 13% already use smart lighting solutions, and 30% are open to installing them in the future.
Heating and air conditioning
Constantly rising energy costs are often the reason why heating, radiators and air conditioning systems are upgraded with smart functionality. Money can be saved when heating can be controlled remotely, or the temperature regulated automatically according to the occupants’ presence. In the UK, 10% of those surveyed already use smart temperature solutions in their homes. Another 39% are comfortable with the idea of using them in the future. Among German respondents, 8% currently use smart temperature solutions, and another third (33%) are open to using them in the future.
A number of smart solutions are available which provide an increased sense of security around the home. 13% of Britons already use applications where smart cameras send images from their flat, house or garden to their smartphone or tablet. Another 36% can see themselves using them in the future. Currently, the use of such applications is less common in Germany, sitting at around 7%. But a significant number, namely 30%, can imagine a future using these apps and devices.
Smart sensors including motion and smoke detectors, and those that indicate an open window or door are also popular. In Germany, 12% of households currently use such sensors, and 26% of respondents expect to install them in the future. In the UK, the current ownership numbers are slightly lower at 11% of households, but 45% of respondents would be open to purchasing them in the future.
Smart locks remain an exception. Only 2% of those surveyed in the UK currently use a smart locking solution for their flats or houses, although 27% can imagine their future use. These figures are comparable to those in Germany, where 3% currently use smart locking solutions. One in four German respondents (25%) can imagine installing them in the future.
Small and major domestic appliances
In comparison, the current ownership of home appliances with smart functionality is low across the board. Only 3% of respondents in the UK say they control or monitor major domestic appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines, and small domestic appliances such as kitchen appliances and fully automatic coffee machines. However, such a low level of current use shows great potential for the future: 33% of British respondents can imagine using smart functionality in their major domestic appliances in the future, and 21% would be interested in using smart functionality in small domestic appliances.
In Germany, current ownership is slightly higher at 4% each for both major and small domestic appliances. Looking to the future, 28% of German respondents can imagine controlling their major domestic appliances via an app, while 24% could see themselves controlling their small domestic appliances in the same way.
Assigning house cleaning tasks to others? “Gladly” say 8% of those surveyed in Germany – households that already own a smart vacuum robot. Another 22% would welcome robots taking over the job of hoovering in the future. Current ownership of smart vacuum cleaners is significantly lower in the UK at only 2%. But respondents were equally open to handing this task to the robots – 21%.
Garden and balcony
Households with gardens and balconies are often faced with the challenge of taking care of their plants in the occupants’ absence, especially during the summer holiday season. Smart solutions can help here, but so far, they have been rarely purchased. Only 1% of those surveyed in the UK use a smart robotic lawnmower or a smart irrigation system. However, 17% of respondents showed interest in robotic lawnmowers and 21% in smart irrigation systems. The figures are slightly higher among those surveyed in Germany: 3% already use robotic lawnmowers or smart irrigation systems. A similar number would be interested in using them in the future at 18% (robotic lawnmowers) and 24% (smart irrigation solutions).
“Our survey results show that the ownership and use of smart home solutions is currently nowhere near the level that fans of technology would expect. However, the fact that a large number of respondents across all smart product categories are considering using them in the future shows the great potential that exists in the market for smart solutions,” says Dr. Sara Warneke, Managing Director of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH.
Positive overall opinion tempered by security concerns
This survey shows that consumers are open to smart solutions in general. However, the degree of future acceptance varies from category to category. For example, 36% of those surveyed in the UK indicated they would not be open to using smart locks and locking solutions in the future. In Germany, slightly fewer reject the idea of smart locks, at 28%. 18% of UK respondents are not open to considering monitoring their home via smart video cameras. At 19%, this rate of rejection is similar in Germany.
When asked why they would not be open to use of these solutions in the future, the results were similar on both sides of the channel: 38% of respondents rejecting such solutions in the UK fear security breaches – that their cameras could be accessed by third parties without their authorisation. In the UK, 23%, and 19% in Germany fear that the manufacturers of these technologies could or would collect data on user behaviour. One further common factor was the fear that the technology would be too complicated and error-prone for reliable use: 21% in the UK and 23% in Germany.
*The data was collected in an online survey conducted by YouGov Deutschland GmbH between 7 July and 9 July 2021, where 4,269 people participated, 2,057 from Germany and 2,212 from the UK. The results were weighted and are representative of their respective country’s population, aged 18 and over.
(See the results of the gfu smart home survey)
Photo – top of page – Sebastian Scholz / Unsplash