Unlocking Smart Home Growth

This is the fourth installment of a special series, presented by the National Hardware Show, exploring key trends and developments driving the growth of housewares and home goods in the home improvement retail business.

This year is expected to see strong growth for the smart home business as continued expansion of smart speakers, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, allow more consumers to connect easily with various products around the home.

The Consumer Technology Association estimates 36.6 million smart speakers will be sold in 2019, a 5% increase year-over-year with total sales expected to hit $3.2 billion. Household penetration of smart speakers, also known as digital assistants, has exceeded 25%.

A large majority of smart home product sales to date have been focused on home security and related items, including video cameras, door bells and lighting.

In housewares, kitchen electrics, home environment and floor care have been driving much of the smart home-centered discussions, introductions and sales.

Despite steady expansion of smart countertop kitchen appliances, many category leaders have been reluctant to make significant product development investments into such products until consumers are more willing to pay more  for them. The ability to connect to popular smart speakers, however, may help break down barriers keeping consumers from stepping up to smart kitchen appliances and other smart household appliances.

Smart home already plays an important role in what CTA classifies as home robots, including robotic vacuums, that can alleviate the drudgery and tedium associated with household tasks. CTA estimates 3.4 million units of home robots (inclusive of vacuums and lawnmowers) will be shipped in 2019, accounting for nearly $1 billion in retail revenue.

Smart speaker applications also appeal to renters, for whom hard-wired, permanently installed home security systems, for example, might not be an option. This, in turn, could widen the opportunity for housewares suppliers to reach renters with products that connect to digital assistants.

Smart Home is one of the most sought-after and trending topics at the National Hardware Show. New to the 2019 National Hardware Show is the Interactive Smart Home— a structured house on the Show Floor where buyers can walk the home and be hands-on with featured products while learning more about them with dedicated visuals—creating a realistic and interactive experience.