Key Findings

  • 58.2% either already own a smart home or intend to buy one, with 25-34 year olds leading the way in both categories
  • 25.3% never want to own a smart home, including 34.2% of respondents aged 45+
  • 57.7% said either ‘privacy’ or ‘security’ prevented them from buying a smart home, with respondents aged 34 or less being most concerned about these issues
  • 74.1% said they had no need for a smart home
  • 71.9% are satisfied with their smart home device, with another 17% satisfied ‘to some degree’
  • 55.9% are excited about the future of smart home technology, although fewer than half of respondents aged 45+ are excited
  • 14.3% are concerned about the future of smart home technology

These days, ‘Alexa’ and ‘Siri’ feel like old friends you’ve known for years, while the phrase ‘OK, Google’ is firmly entrenched in the common lexicon. Why? Two simple words: smart devices. More specifically, smart home devices. Love them or hate them, smart home devices have been taking Australia by storm, with their inexorable rise showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

In fact, Australia’s smart home device market grew by a massive 55% in 20171. Subsequently, smart home penetration in Australian households had climbed to 24.2% by the beginning of 20192. It seems like this is only the beginning, too, with researchers estimating that most Aussie households will have a smart home device by 20223.

While many people view this as a significant technological advancement, privacy and security concerns have left others less convinced. Accordingly, a new survey by Budget Direct Home Insurance provides insight into surveyed Australians’ attitudes, concerns, and purchasing intentions for smart home devices. The survey used a used a sample size of 1,000 people weighted to be representative of Australian adults aged 18+.

Smart home devices: ownership low, intent high, but one quarter never want one

Respondents’ smart home purchasing attitudes can be divided into four relatively even categories. So far, only 22.2% of surveyed Australians own a smart home device, although this appears likely to change quickly, as a further 36% intend to buy one. This brings the total percentage of respondents who either own or intend to buy a smart home device to 58.2%.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents (65.2%) only owned one smart home device, although just over one in five (22.3%) owned two. Only 1.8% owned five or more smart home devices.

While one might assume that younger, more technologically savvy people would be more likely to own a smart home device, actually, there was little difference between the surveyed age groups. 25-34 year olds were the surveyed age group most likely to own a smart home device with 28.2%. At the other end of the scale, 65+ year olds were the least likely with 18.3%, with most other age groups hovering around the overall average of 22%.

Nevertheless, this generational gap widened when it came to respondents’ intentions to purchase a smart home. Once again, surveyed 25-34 year olds led the way, with 47.3% saying they intended to buy a smart home device. This percentage decreased for every subsequent age group, reaching a low of just 17.3% of surveyed 65+ year olds.

A similar trend emerged among the 16.4% of participants who responded ‘I’m not sure what [a smart home device] is’. Only 11.1% of surveyed 25-34 year olds were unsure what a smart home device is compared to 22.3% of 65+ year olds.

Additionally, one quarter (25.3%) of respondents said they never want to own a smart home device. This is where the generational divide really became obvious: for respondents aged 44 or less, only 15.2% said they never wanted to own a smart home device. Conversely, more than one third (34.2%) of respondents aged 45+ said they never wanted to own a smart home device.

Operations Manager at Get Smart Home Vinny Sareen elaborates, saying, “it’s somewhat natural and intuitive to overlook the power of smart home technology, especially if a user has had limited experience with it.” As such, it is possible this generational gap will narrow as smart home devices become more common.

Price, privacy, and necessity prevent smart home purchases

When the 25.3% of respondents who said they never wanted to own a smart home device were asked to explain why, several concerns became apparent. Most notably, 74.1% said they simply had no need for one, including a massive 91.6% of 65+ year olds. Even so, Vinny Sareen argues that smart home devices have many practical uses, saying, “a reliable and smart home system setup, if done correctly, has the potential to improve the safety, connectivity, and convenience of how an average household member connects with their home.”

He continues, explaining that smart homes have more uses than the average person is aware of, “the scope of capability of our smart home automation hubs is ever expanding - from lighting, power control, safety, and security - your entire home ecosystem is allowed to explore its full potential by lifting the connectivity within itself and being able to do some cool and useful stuff.”

Just as notable were the 31% who cited ‘privacy’ as a concern, as well as the 26.7% who cited ‘security’. Therefore, more than half (57.7%) of respondents were concerned about privacy or security.

Product Manager at SmartHome Brad Arthur agrees with these findings, acknowledging privacy/security is a “very real issue and concern.” Despite this, he offers hope for potential smart home buyers, saying, “my best advice is to talk to an expert if [you] have concerns regarding security and smart home devices - there are ways to achieve very secure smart home systems that an expert can assist with.”

Surprisingly, younger generations were more concerned about privacy and security than their older counterparts. In fact, 41.7% of surveyed 25-34 year olds were concerned about security. This figure fell for every subsequent age group, reaching a low of just 13.3% of surveyed 65+ year olds.

Similarly, 45.5% of 18-24 year olds were concerned about privacy, compared to just 19.3% of 65+ year olds. One possible explanation is that younger people reported higher intentions to buy smart home devices, and were therefore more attuned to related news, research, and controversies.

Elsewhere, 24.3% of respondents said price was preventing them from buying a smart home device. Still, as smart home devices become more common, it is likely that prices will drop, meaning this may not necessarily be a long-term concern.

72% are satisfied with their smart home device

While privacy, security, and price are all justifiable concerns, the good news is that 71.9% of people who already own a smart home device were satisfied with their device(s), while another 17% were satisfied to some degree. This might not be enough to convince the holdouts, but it’s certainly an encouraging sign. Only 1.8% of respondents said they weren’t satisfied with their device(s), with the remaining 9.4% still getting used to the technology. Google Home was by far the most popular (36%) smart home device among respondents, with other options splitting the vote fairly evenly.

Interestingly, 65+ year olds were the surveyed age group most satisfied (80.6%) with their smart home device(s), fractionally ahead of 18-24 year olds (79.3%). On the other hand, only two thirds (66%) of 25-34 year olds were satisfied with their smart home devices, despite being the age group most likely to own a smart home device, and the age group with the highest intentions to purchase a smart home device.

On a more light-hearted note, 18-24 year olds were actually the surveyed age group who struggled the most (13.8%) to get used to smart home technology. Yet, 18-24 year olds are often seen as more ‘tech savvy’ than their older counterparts. When it comes to operating smart home devices, it seems that age really does equal wisdom.

Future of smart homes looks bright, though concerns remain

Despite security issues, privacy concerns, and even a few problems adjusting to the technology, 55.9% of respondents were excited for the future of smart homes. However, this enthusiasm comes with an important caveat. Once again, a major generational divide emerged.

72.9% of surveyed 18-44 year olds were excited about the future of smart home technology, while fewer than half (47.3%) of 45-64 year olds were excited. Excitement dropped to a low of just 28.9% of surveyed 65+ year olds. As a result, a massive 51.8% of 65+ year olds said they were not excited about the future of smart home technology, making this the only age group where more than half of respondents answered ‘no’.

Finally, 14.3% of respondents were concerned about the future of smart home technology. Only 8.8% of 35-44 year olds were concerned about the future of smart home technology - the lowest percentage of any surveyed age group. However, yet again, this percentage increased in every subsequent age group, reaching a high of 19.3% of surveyed 65+ year olds.

Disclaimer

This survey was conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of Budget Direct in October 2018. All figures are from this research unless stated otherwise. The survey was conducted online with a total sample size of 1,000 weighted and representative of all Australian adults (aged 18+)

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