For us the connected home is the most compelling prospect when we think about how it connects with the external world. We believe that the outside space is for experience and building awareness. Whereas the home is a more intimate space about building closer connections, it’s more about cultivation and building advocacy. So think of outside as brand discovery and inside as increasing your point of sale and customer loyalty. Is this the future of brand building?

E-commerce – the ability to shop online from anywhere – allowed the point of sale to enter the home some time ago, but what we also see now is the knock on effect to traditional retail. We can now shop from anywhere with internet connection, so the retail space is no longer merely about buying stuff. In fact, the tone of what we do in traditional retail spaces has changed. Shops have become a space for information gathering: 34% of global consumers have taken a photo of a product in store or recorded information to use later. And of course it is a space for cautious maximisers to test brands before committing to purchase: 41% have looked at or tested a product in store before buying. The outside world then is becoming more about discovering information, experiencing and even testing brands before they are let into our lives.

 

The home: a place for relationships

Meanwhile with the ability to shop from anywhere, the home has become a more commercial space. But one which still must be emotional, empathetic and personal. So much of commercial decision making happens in the home as we plan our days and lives, but so does so much of consumption. And a partnership between brand and consumer occurs around any moment where we consume: this is where we see opportunities to extend brand building and where three big changes in the connected home signal areas where brands can interact with consumers and building meaningful relationships.

The first change is a product revolution. As products have become smart, embedded with sensors which collect, analyse and react to data around them, they now perform at their best not when they are brand new, but once they know you. The point of purchase no longer represents the endpoint of a transaction, but the start of a partnership. And this means brand building doesn’t stop at point of sale, but becomes more important than ever.

Take Amazon Alexa as an example. It exists in a state of constant onboarding, communicating with its owner of new features and commands, or tips on how to use it best.

But even for products that aren’t smart, consumers are interested in interaction with brands and the development of a warmer partnership. 53% are interested in chatting to an online shop assistant for advice while buying, another 53% are interested in a service that suggests content to watch based on the time available. We also see opportunities in the home for recipe support and advice from food brands or cleaning tips from household brands. Key to building these interactions in the home is injecting warmth through personalisation and chattier, conversational interfaces. Brands need to think about creating mutually beneficial partnerships with consumers around any moment of consumption, we believe this is key to loyalty building in the longer term.

 

Branding Bypass

All of this becomes much more vital when we think about a potential threat on the horizon: Branding Bypass. This is our trend that looks at the rise of auto-replenishment systems and how this affects the future of brand building. Smart home devices, from printers to washing machines, are now capable of detecting when products are running low and simply reordering before they run out. This offers massive convenience for the consumer, but the threat of becoming invisible for brands as consumers opt out of the transaction and allow a smart device to choose the brand. Smart home assistants pose a similar threat, when a consumer asks Google Home or Amazon Alexa to, “Add milk to the shopping basket”, the choice of retailer and brand is handed over to an algorithm. This is why we believe that brand building is so vital in the home, it’s either that or risk being bypassed.

 

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This post was originally published on LinkedIn