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Mindshare unveils results of first practical study into connected products in the home

Mindshare, in association with SharpEnd, the UK’s first Internet of Things agency, today launched the results of the first in depth study into connected products in the home and the opportunity it offers to household brands. Our research programme, Huddle R&D, built 10 connected product and packaging prototypes and trialled them in five households over two weeks. Coupled with a quantitative survey into the attitudes of 1000 UK smartphone users towards the Internet of Things and connected packaging, we are now sharing our insights to reveal the practical applications for the technology that consumers will actually welcome into their homes. 

The research project entitled Everyday Connects revealed the following:

  • There is a strong appetite for household brands to provide ‘services’ in the home – 64% of UK consumers are interested in the idea of everyday objects being connected to the internet.
  • Connected packaging that delivers extra consumer value is most appealing.
    • 62% find the idea of a product which alerts you or reorders itself when about to run out appealing
    • 58% find the idea of a product reminding you when it is about to reach its expiry date appealing
  • Product packaging has the potential to become an adaptable digital touchpoint - over 50% of those surveyed are interested in scanning packaging to learn more about the provenance of fresh produce
  • Consumers are willing to passively share purchase and usage data on everyday items - 62% agree that connected products can collect data if they get something of value in return
  • Household products companies could move towards subscription relationships with consumers
    • 39% agree that ‘I would consider a service contract with a brand where it automatically reorders and delivers products for me’
  • But consumers are wary of ceding too much control to products capable of communicating to them directly or acting independently
    • 76% agree that ‘If all household products are internet connected, I need to be in control of which can interact with me and in what circumstances’
  • There will be a need for a central aggregator to manage all connected products in the home
    • 35% agree that ‘I would like a virtual assistant to manage all of the interactions with products for me’

The prototypes used in the five households combined existing household products with communication technology such as near field communication (NFC), wireless smart buttons and Amazon Echo.

The concepts were designed to span a range of communication types, covering the four ways in which household product brands could make use of the functionality of the Internet of Things to deliver information, experiences and services to their consumers in the home:

  • Product Recommendations
  • Use Guidance
  • Reordering
  • Brand Story

Jeremy Pounder, Futures Director at Mindshare commented: “With the number of connected products in existence (excluding smartphones and computers) set to increase from 5 billion today to 21 billion by 2020*, now is the time for brands to begin to experiment. The brands and marketers that have prepared for the advent of connected packaging, and fully considered the implications for their businesses will be in the prime position to capitalise on the opportunity.”

Cameron Worth, founder of SharpEnd, added: “This project was exciting to work on as it was gathering real feedback from real people. In the IoT space people rarely ever ask the question ‘what’s in it for the consumer?’ and this research project was a testament to how seriously both Mindshare and SharpEnd consider user experience. Applying our expertise in developing IoT applications with Mindshare’s credibility in research has delivered what we consider to be a powerful and thought-provoking report for brands as they enter this exciting new space and activate the ‘real world’ as the new creative platform.”

Methodology

With our partners SharpEnd, we devised and built ten connected product and packaging concepts. These combined existing household products with communication technology such as NFC, and wireless smart buttons.

The concepts were designed to span a range of communication types, from push notifications to alert when the product expiry date is approaching, to video tutorials on how to achieve certain hair styles using the product.

We recruited five households to take part in a two week trial of our prototype products. The households were chosen to represent a variety of household types – a family with young children, two couples, and two flat shares. Respondents were not recruited to be early adopters, rather the only parameters were that they were to own a smartphone, and not to be outright rejecters of new technology.

Over the course of the two weeks, the households lived with, used, and interacted with our prototype connected products. We were in regular contact with them via Whatsapp, and were able to monitor every time an interaction occurred via our browser-based dashboard. We visited them twice during the two weeks, discussing their experience of the products, and their views on how brands might make use of connected packaging.

At the end of the two week period, we invited all of the participants into our offices for a half day workshop during which we evaluated their experiences and established their demands from brands that seek to add connectivity to their packaging.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE FULL REPORT