Connecting the Dots

How are European consumers responding to the prospect of a more connected world?

Everybody’s networked

Once known as  the ‘embedded internet’ or ‘pervasive computing’, the Internet of Things (IoT), has become one of today’s hottest topics in consumer electronics. The term encompasses a constantly expanding assortment of products, from smartwatches and fitness trackers to voice-activated home appliances and even self-driving cars.

According to recent predictions from Bain and Company, the Internet of Things is on track to double in value by 2021, reaching a whopping $520 billion. In addition to building up hefty market value, the Internet of Things is also creating a dramatic reconfiguration in the ways in which we manage our daily lives.

In our homes and offices, networks of connected devices give us finely tuned control over our living and working environments, while, from a business perspective, IoT innovations help to streamline common processes and make humans a more integral element of the tech ecosystems within which we are situated.

Smart nations and cities

Taking it up another notch, we also have the concepts of the smart city and even the smart nation, with Singapore leading the way.

On a more everyday level, smart homes are one of the most common examples of the IoT revolution. These networks of intelligent products can predict consumer needs and preferences based on an assortment of data, and manage homes on their behalf, allowing consumers to focus on their daily lives. In particular, two of the tech giants, Google and Amazon, developed their own products, the Google Home and Amazon Echo. Both of these have now become household names, and have helped to bring the IoT into the mainstream.

Clearly, the Internet of Things is a significant force to be reckoned with. But as with every technological advance, there’s always a mixture of consumer reactions, ranging from wholehearted embrace, to trepidation and even rejection.

For brands looking to make headway in a new market, it’s vital to understand evolving trends around an industry – and there’s no better way to do that then by analysing consumer conversations using social listening.

Festive frenzy

Here, we’ll analyse how European consumers are reacting to the Internet of Things and associated products. For starters, Internet of Things consumer conversation has been increasing steadily since 2013, peaking at over 200,000 posts in late 2017 (likely in response to the holiday season), then settling down to a more consistent level as we head into the third quarter of 2018. If this trend continues, we can expect another peak as we move into the festive season of this year.

From smart TVs to smart everything

Looking at data for specific type of IoT devices, we can see that smart TVs were one of the front runners in the drive to adopt IoT technology. This is reflected by their initial peak in 2013 (as shown in the below chart). They then experienced a lull in consumer attention, while other devices (such as smart watches) picked up the slack. Smart TVs have experienced a resurgence in the last two years and now maintain a consistent presence in the consumer discussion. Smart home devices, such as the Google Home or the Amazon Echo, also account for a significant portion of the conversation.

Capturing attention

Certain brands have fared better than others with their IoT offerings in the European market. Below we can see the top 5 brands featured in the IoT conversation, where Panasonic performs strongly. This is partly due to the company’s focus on regular promotional campaigns to maintain its strong market share.

As well as Smart TVs, Smart Home devices are also worthy of mention. In particular, the launch of the Amazon Echo attracted strong engagement across European social media in the first half of 2018.

This is as shown to the right by the significant presence of the #AmazonEcho Twitter hashtag alongside the keywords ‘Amazon’ and ‘Echo’. You might also notice the presence of the word ‘terrifying’. This relates to the ‘strange, unprompted’ laugh of Echo’s AI assistant, Alexa, which many customers thought was creepy. Fortunately, Amazon was able to fix the problem before it scared customers away.

Conclusion

Want to learn more about emerging consumer electronics trends in the European region? Read our Consumer Trends Report for Consumer Electronics now!

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