Technology is turning the tech dreams of yesterday into the reality of today: Why European Consumers are still hesitating about smart home and how communication can help them to understand new ways of living.

From talking vacuum cleaners to intelligent refrigerators – Smart Objects everywhere
Smart light switches here, a talking refrigerator there: Smart living as an expression of future lifestyle is on everyone’s lips. Exhibitions such as the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona or the IFA in Berlin recently showed impressive examples of future technologies, Internet of Things, and smart home tech receiving special attention. And this is just the beginning. According to estimates, the global smart home market is worth 63 billion euros, with an upward trend and annual sales growth of a good 20 percent, North America being still the leading market for smart tech, but with Europe catching up.
Germans are late-adopters in European comparison
More and more households are turning into smart homes also in Europe. The number of devices being part of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) reached 22.5 million at the end of 2017. However, it seems that Europeans and especially Germans are less open to these new technologies than it is the case for other nations. Where Germans still load their shopping trolleys themselves, smart washing machines automatically reorder Americans’ detergents with Amazon. According to a study by Linksys, a specialist for home networking solutions, the Germans would describe themselves as late adopters of the smart home in a European comparison. But what is preventing them from using Smart Home?

Smart Home – but only in moderation, please
This question is discussed again and again. It is rather a mixture of different factors that play a role. According to Deloitte the still very high price (38 percent), the pronounced security (data protection 33 percent) and lack of knowledge about concrete advantages in everyday life and installation (21 percent) are the main obstacles for the spread of smart home in Germany, but also in other European countries. Critical analyzing, suspicion towards the government and perhaps also the German perfectionism are currently still making it difficult for suppliers of smart products.

Corporate communication can help consumers to understand Smart home better
Every day, companies providing IoT-products or services are confronted with this skepticism when communicating. Even though, according to studies (Authenticity Gap 2017), consumers in Europe, including Germany, are increasingly looking for household appliances that make their lives more efficient and satisfying. However, risk-tolerance is rather low, especially when buying online. The fear of a lack of service is still widespread here. Using the social media channels as a platform for advice and dialogue and offering appropriate service with the installation throughout these platforms can be interesting way of being in contact with consumers.

But also, journalist test programs, testimonials and hands-on events can help to consumers to overcome barriers. They give them the opportunity to form an opinion about independent third parties and at best convince them; influencer work, especially with youtubers, is furthermore becoming increasingly important, as online video will account for 80 percent of all web traffic by 2019.
For communication, it is very important to show concrete case studies in order to take away the uncertainty. Interviews with Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) can also be interesting, answering consumer questions, making clear how it works and taking fears away. The key message must emphasize the added value of a product compared to its practical value, which can also justify a higher price… so that in the end step by step consumers become more confident and see how tech dreams of yesterday can become reality of tomorrow.