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Overcome the Smart Home Gender Gap

Women lag behind men in their interest in smart home technology, says BUILDER blogger Suzanne Shelton.

By Suzanne Shelton

It only takes a quick Google search to see the promise of the smart home. The way in which we can now control functions in our homes and how devices control aspects of our lives for us is nothing short of incredible. And to consumers who aren’t technology-lovers, it’s nothing short of overwhelming. Though the budding world of smart home technology is continuing to grow, the majority of early-adopters have adopted.

To identify what consumers want it’s essential to create a clear portrait of their buying motives. In a report that Shelton Group produced last year, we were able to break this down and reach a surprisingly logical conclusion: men and women have different priorities when purchasing new technology and therefore different buying drivers in the smart home arena.

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It won’t surprise you to learn that men are significantly more likely than women to have tech toys like drones, virtual reality headsets, and smart watches. In our Energy Pulse survey of more than 2,000 Americans, twice as many women reported a low interest in new technology compared to men. Additionally, 53% of men reported a high/very high interest in new technology, compared to 39% of women. To put it in the words of one of our employees, “Let’s face it: if you’re selling a tech gadget, you had men at 'Hello.'”

So here’s the rub: Women lag significantly behind men in their interest in smart home technology, yet they are the primary purchasers of products for the home. Convince them that smart home tech can deliver the benefits they care about, and you may see a drastic difference in mass adoption of smart home tech. First things first though, give them an accurate picture of what the smart home is - only 44% of women said they understood what “smart home” means compared to 59% of men.

Getting women on board has more to do with connecting cool technology (which they like well enough, but don’t feel compelled to purchase at a high price point) with things they really care about. According to years of Pulse research we’ve conducted, that includes savings, convenience, health, comfort, beauty, safety, and energy efficiency.

While it’s true that home security has been of utmost importance to all buyers so far, energy efficiency is another angle that can help you connect more meaningfully to both women and men. In our most recent Energy Pulse survey, smart thermostats narrowly edged out smart home security systems in terms of what people plan to purchase within the next year (29% vs. 28%). And 36% of potential home buyers wanted their new homes to have a smart thermostat – more than wanted a smart home security system (34%).

In fact, while 49% of women are unenthusiastic about smart home technology, 74% of women (as well as 74% of men) are moderately or highly enthusiastic about energy efficiency.

In sum, when determining what smart home technology customers truly want to purchase, remember that it’s essential to get women on board and that meeting their priorities should be the object of your sales efforts. But there’s no need to leave the men out either, because both men and women value energy efficiency. Combine that with an appeal to women’s values of safety, saving, and comfort, and provide them with context and clear explanations, and they’ll begin to envision the smart life they could be living.

To learn more, download Shelton Group’s free reports at http://sheltongrp.com/lp/energy-pulse-2015-special-report/.

This article was originally published by Builder on August 9, 2016.

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