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Survey: Consumers Don't Get IoT, But They Will

Consumers don't yet see the value of the "Internet of Things." Here's how companies selling IoT and wearables can win them over.

Everyday folks don't see what all the fuss is about the Internet of Things. In fact, more than four out of five have never even heard of it, a recent survey finds.

Such perception is important because the IoT market will need consumer buy-in to make its way into our homes and cars and onto our bodies in a significant way. At the moment, consumers aren't buying IoT -- but that will change over the next few years.

At least that's the conclusion of a survey of 2,000 US consumers about their perceptions of IoT, wearables, and in-home smart devices conducted by Acquity, an e-commerce and marketing consulting firm owned by Accenture.

Indeed, IoT devices are at a consumer standstill, with adoption rates in the single digits. But IoT will grow gradually the next two years and hit widespread adoption over the next five years among consumers, predicts the Acquity report, "The Internet of Things: The Future of Consumer Adoption."

[IoT pioneers say the fourth industrial revolution looms. Read Make Internet-Ready Products, Or Else]

As a technologist you might be sick of hearing about IoT, but 87% of respondents hadn't heard of the term "Internet of Things" before the survey. Sixty-four percent say the reason they haven't purchased an in-home IoT device is because they were not aware that smart fridges and smoke detectors are even available for purchase; 40% didn't know that wearable technology was available.

Lack of perceived value of IoT and wearables was the top barrier to mass adoption, according to the survey. Additionally, a quarter of respondents had "concerns with privacy," not a surprise given recent data breaches at retailers Target and Home Depot.

With consumers either skeptical or uninformed about IoT, companies trying to sell IoT devices will need some ingenuity to convince consumers. Here are four tips from the Acquity report.

1. Accentuate the incentives
While survey respondents are wary of IoT and wearables, they did list some benefits they'd like to see. Companies planning to sell smart technology need to laser-focus on perks such as:

  • Location-based coupons or offers delivered to their mobile device for frequently purchased foods.
  • Recipes on their mobile device that they can create with contents in their (smart) refrigerator.
  • Money-saving tips and information about the least-expensive place in a person's area to purchase favorite products.

2. Let shoppers see the smart machines
Seventy-one percent of survey respondents said they'd buy a smart refrigerator instead of the standard model, and 76% would purchase a smart smoke or CO2 detector if the products were offered at the store.

"This suggests that point-of-sale information from sales associates and promotions could be effective ways for retailers to increase sales of connected technology," the report states.

3. Focus on safety over novelty
Although 23% of people have concerns with the price of in-home devices and 19% have concerns with wearables' prices, most said they'll pay a premium for connected technology such as a smart smoke alarm if it makes them feel safer.

Novelty or convenience, such as with a smart refrigerator, is a tougher sell. Fifty-nine percent were willing to pay more for a smart refrigerator, while 83% of consumers were willing to pay more for a smart smoke alarm.

4. Rewards for data sharing appease privacy fears
Security and privacy concerns remain key consumer roadblocks, but the power of incentives goes a long way.

Forty percent of consumers would share data from their wearable devices with retailers or brands in exchange for coupons, discounts, or helpful information, compared to only 9% who would do so without incentives.

Asked what it would take to share data via smart technology in a car -- a place most consumers would deem private -- and the lure of incentives is on full display. Sixty percent of consumers would share car data with the manufacturer in exchange for a free maintenance session, and roughly half would share data if the manufacturer sent smartphone reminders for maintenance and checkups or info on where to get the least-expensive gas along a person's route.

The report's big takeaway is that to win our fickle hearts and wallets, companies selling IoT devices must constantly reward us with information and discounts that make our lives better. Only then will they get our precious data.

The Internet of Things demands reliable connectivity, but standards remain up in the air. Here's how to kick your IoT strategy into high gear. Get the new IoT Goes Mobile issue of InformationWeek Tech Digest today. (Free registration required.)