Consumers are using their connected products more than ever, though their appetite for new purchases waned over the past year according to Assurant’s latest Connected Decade survey.
Getting and staying connected became a vital necessity during the height of the pandemic with the rise of working and learning from home. That behavior has continued as people have become more comfortable using technology. The number of U.S. consumers who regularly use their Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-connected devices increased 39 percent from 2021 to 2022.
Perhaps because of this familiarity, consumer frustrations with connected products declined year over year. In 2022, 58 percent of respondents said they had issues with their connected consumer electronics and appliances, down from 72 percent in 2021.
This is a reversal from the 35 percent increase in people experiencing challenges between 2019 and 2021, when many bought new electronics to help them get better connected.
Since the onset of the pandemic in 2019, some of the biggest declines in frustrations come from people who said the product didn’t perform as expected, or that they feared it would break. That’s a positive trend for the CE industry as consumers have more confidence in the products themselves.
Yet, there was no change in the percentage of those who said they couldn’t figure out how to use the product, and an increase in respondents who didn’t understand the value of what they purchased.
If consumers don’t feel they are getting their worth from their gadgets, especially when many smart products cost more than their unconnected counterparts, it may hinder new purchases in the future. Are the smart features worth it? Premium pricing brings premium expectations.
Also, consistent with previous years, the biggest frustrations for consumers tend to be trouble connecting a product to Wi-Fi or a smart phone, installation issues and lack of self-help resources. Being able to quickly and easily set up and use a product is essential to a positive user experience.
That’s why it’s important that buyers get value from their purchases from day one. Assurant’s research shows that 44 percent of customers in 2022 would be more likely to buy a connected device if offered a value-added service such as on-demand tech support, digital identity protection, discounts on new products from trading in a used device, and an extended warranty.
It’s also critical because, despite the increased use of connected products, purchase intent among consumers decreased over the past year. There was a 22 percent decline in those who said they “will buy” a connected product this year and a 10 percent drop in those who said they “might buy.”
This may be due to the current economic climate and the fact that many consumers purchased connected tech during the pandemic and there is less of a need for additional gadgets this year.
Whatever the cause, it’s still imperative to provide a premium post-purchase experience. If we use smartphones are a guide, most people tend to upgrade their device at an average of 3.5 years of ownership, which will be later this year for those that bought their connected tech at the beginning of the pandemic.
To help customers recognize the value of their devices as they consider upgrading, make sure they have easy access to experts who can help them get the most out of their connected products. Also, offer trade-in programs that make it convenient and more affordable to replace existing products with newer models. These measures can promote even further use of connected products while incentivizing new sales.
Jeff is the President, U.S. Connected Living, at Assurant, a global provider of risk management products and services with headquarters in New York City. Its businesses provide a diverse set of specialty niche-market insurance products in the property, casualty, extended service protection and pre-need insurance sectors.