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GfK Envisions a ‘Smart’ Future

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  January 7th, 2019  By Chelsea Wing

GsK Evinsions a 'Smart' Future

With talk of smart TVs and self-driving cars dominating CES’ morning panels, GfK’s Kathy Sheehan (EVP, Consumer Life) and Karen Ramspacher (SVP, Innovation & Insights) took the stage to deconstruct the benefits and opportunities of an increasingly “smart” life. Consumers, they said, are becoming more selective with the types of products they purchase — seeking convenience and brand trust above all else. More and more consumers agree that too much tech can be a bad thing, while concerns about privacy are on the rise.

With this in mind, Sheehan and Ramspacher broke down the relationship between consumers and brands in four key categories, while also providing insights for how the “smart” life will evolve in the coming years.

According to GfK, 49% of Americans own at least one smart home product or device. Above all else, consumers seek monetary savings and security (think smart thermostats, video doorbells, and smart lightbulbs), with the most critical feature being ease of use. Sheehan and Ramspacher envision a future with more connectivity and less complex interfaces, and they encourage brands to adopt clearer terms and conditions — after all, a smart home feels less secure if it feels as though the home is “always listening.”

In regards to transportation, GfK found that 9 out of 10 Americans trust themselves over a computer. In other words, while the fascination with self-driving cars is rising, most drivers are not ready to give up all control. However, they said, self-driving cars are not the be-all, end-all of smart vehicles. Brands need to better communicate the benefits of automotive innovation — like start-stop technology, which shuts off a vehicle automatically while stopped in order to save fuel.

You may be familiar with meditation apps or fitness trackers, but Sheehan and Ramspacher maintain that the next “big” trend in health technology is in prevention — how do you prevent yourself from getting sick? DNA home testing kits and tech-enabled weight and diet management systems all have huge potential in this area, though privacy concerns are still at the forefront. Sheehan and Ramspacher’s advice to brands is to communicate a “give to get” philosophy clearly: What benefits are being given, and what kind of data are brands getting back?

Security is paramount when it comes to finance, and Sheehan and Ramspacher encourage brands to keep this top of mind. The good news? Consumers overwhelmingly see the benefits of online banking and shopping outweighing the negatives, and innovations like mobile wallets are slowly gaining traction in the U.S. market. However, there is still room to grow, with opportunities for tech such as in-vehicle purchases for drive-throughs and car wishes. Cryptocurrency, which is currently deemed “secure” by only a third of Americans, may even take off in the coming years — that is, if brands make the effort to educate the marketplace and enhance security.

Check out all the latest CES 2019 news here.

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