Research: UK fastest-growing ’˜smart home’ market in Europe

The United Kingdom is the fastest-growing and second largest market for sales of ‘smart’ devices for the home, according to a survey from research specialist GfK Global.

The UK smart home market was worth £900m (over €1.1 billion/$1 billion) in 2017 – up 19% in value between 2016 and 2017, and up 35% in volume – making it the fast-growing and second biggest market in the continent, says GfK.

What exactly did GfK deem ‘smart’ for the research? A plethora of products spanning smart routers, smart TVs, smart meters, fitness and activity trackers, and connected set-top boxes. The fastest growing product for the past year was identified in the research as smart speakers, with ownership doubling between 2017 and 2018.

But the research did not include connected TVs (which account for extra £1.3 billion, creating a wider value of more than £2.2 billion for the UK market).

GfK outlines as many as 336 companies and precisely 3,777 smart home products being available to consumers over a year (up until April 2018), making for a competitive market that has seen an increase of 30% year-on-year.

Connected entertainment & security top consumer wishlist

The research conducted by GfK provided useful insight into what exactly consumers are planning or interested in buying in the near future – of note for the professional market was interest in energy management, lighting and light control and alarm systems and IP security cameras, as well as the broader indication that they are most of the time looking to buy a number of different products.

smart home gfk study 2016, 2017, 2018 results in graph

Connected entertainment and products led the way when those surveyed were asked to pick the product/solution with the most appeal (20%), followed by by security and control (14%), and smart energy and lighting (13%). Smart health-orientated products and appliances rounded things out in the 10% and below category.

GfK states that it found that connected entertainment was the only category to see an increase in its appeal since 2017, adding that smart TVs and routers often act as gateway products, whilst smart lighting and thermostats are often added to homes with other products already in the home.

85% of the UK’s online population now own at least one smart product, while the number owning four or more has grown from 35% last year to 44% this year, according to GfK.

Major barriers to entry: price & privacy concerns

GfK outlines that price was the main barrier for consumers deploying more smart products in their home, with as many as 41% respondents citing it as a concern. Following this at 23% was personal privacy – particularly relevant given the recent news that Amazon and Samsung continue to get caught out. The research noted the lack of connectivity between everyday smart home products where several existed was a key factor affecting consumers’ perspective of what they can achieve in their home.

“Take-up of smart home products in the UK continues to rise, with interactive speakers the hot product of the last year,” states Trevor Godman, divisional director at GfK.

He adds: “In contrast however, the level of consumer excitement about smart home as a category has lost momentum somewhat – particularly for smart appliances and smart health products. As smart home pivots to the mass market, it is essential that manufacturers look at what is holding consumers back and communicate compelling benefits that capture consumers’ imaginations.”

For the above study, GfK interview 1,000 UK adults (aged 16+) in April 2018 in collaboration with industry body techUK.

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