While smart kitchen vendors rush to print off thousands of flyers for next week’s CES, a new survey from Scripps Network Interactive finds that respondents considered technology in the kitchen a “nice-to-have,” because “pain points aren’t strong enough to drive major purchases or changes in behavior.”
Before anyone goes and cancels their room reservation at the Bellagio, let’s take this survey with a big grain of salt. It was part of a broader survey about smart homes and we don’t know the makeup of the audience other than it’s comprised of 600 U.S. homeowners of “all ages.” Additionally we don’t know how the questions were presented. There’s a big difference between asking someone if they want an internet connected oven and asking them if they would like on-demand guided cooking instructions.
But those unknowns and even the scraps of data offered by this survey can be instructive for those in the smart kitchen space. It’s good to note that in the Scripps survey, 40 percent of respondents said they “aren’t interested in connected appliances and expressed skepticism of the utility of kitchen-related tech beyond the ‘gee-whiz’ factor.”
In other words, for a broad audience, a connected oven might not sell itself, and may need value messaging to convert skeptics. Lead with the benefit (guided cooking, real-time nutritional information) rather than the technology (Bluetooth/WiFi enabled).
Smaller kitchen gadgets fared a bit better in the survey with “small kitchen appliances” leading the respondents’ wish lists, followed by automatic cleaning devices and voice controlled devices.
Obviously smaller kitchen gadgets are less of an investment than big connected appliances, and don’t require a large amount of space. Additionally, cycles of phone upgrades have taught us that technology can get outdated quickly. Replacing a five year old “smart” coffee maker is a lot different than swapping out a five year old smart fridge. Plus, people have a legitimate concern about losing control of their appliances and having a company brick their fridge.
The desire for voice control among survey respondents could show us the entry point appliance manufacturers need to sell bigger ticket items, and Alexa is shaping up to be the tip of that spear. Amazon sold tens of millions of Alexa devices over this past holiday, and the company just announced built-in cooking controls for cooking appliances like microwaves. Once users are comfortable with an Alexa microwave, getting them to buy an Amazon smart fridge isn’t as big a leap.
Who knows? Buying an Echo today could lead to a kitchen remodel next year.
This survey shouldn’t rattle anyone packing for CES this weekend, but this small data point is a nice reminder of what to consider when pitching your products.