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How To Calm Queasy Connected Customers

78% are reluctant to purchase after "major frustrations"

As participants in the consumer tech industry, it can be easy to forget that not all civilians are tech-savvy.

In fact, according to a recent study by Assurant, the extended warranty provider, more than three-quarters of U.S. consumers (78 percent) are reluctant to buy any more connected devices after experiencing “major frustrations” with the smart products they already own.

But this roadblock to adoption can be avoided in large measure by assuaging their frustrations and tech phobias with value-added services (VAS). Typically offered by retailers and OEMs as attachment sales, these pre- and post-purchase options include extended warranty coverage; protection against theft, loss or damage; and on-demand tech support. Often the latter two are wrapped into the first.

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In the case of connected products, 73 percent of those same exasperated shoppers said they would be more likely to buy more smart tech if it came with protection and/or support services.

But to see how the inclusion of specific services could improve purchase intentions across the smart-product spectrum, Assurant weighed each separate VAS against 21 different connected categories. The results are startling.

Beginning with extended warranties, fully 45 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to buy a smart appliance if it came with a two-year coverage plan. Similarly, 39 percent of consumers would be more inclined to buy robotic floor vacs that came with added protection, and 37 percent felt the same for VR systems, tablets and e-readers, and Wi-Fi garage door systems.

Moving on to theft, loss or damage protection, the most consumer-phobic categories were action cams, Wi-Fi security cams and Wi-Fi home security systems. Twenty-nine percent of respondents would be more likely to purchase each product type if it was protected from dire circumstances, the survey said, while 26 percent would be more inclined to buy video game consoles and smart devices for pets.

Surprisingly, the third VAS, on-demand tech support, garnered the least enthusiastic response. The offer of personal hand-holding had the greatest sway on car diagnostic apps, with 25 percent of respondents indicating a greater likelihood of purchase. Runner-ups included smart TVs and DVRs (23 percent); smart thermostats (20 percent); and smart sprinkler systems and streaming media TV boxes (18 percent each).

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Categories that evinced the least need for 1-800 hotlines were robo vacs and wearables (11 percent each); video game consoles and tablets and e-readers (10 percent each); and action cams (7 percent).

Assurant further found that VAS availability was most critical for first-time buyers of connected tech. While 97 percent of respondents said they might make their first smart purchase within the next 12 months, nearly three-quarters of this group (73 percent) said they’d be more likely to reach for their wallets if one or more of the value-added services was part of the package.

The Assurant study, “The Connected Now,” is largely based on the results of a consumer poll conducted each November for the past three years. The most recent survey canvassed 1,243 adult Americans.

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