Last year brought more change to the world than anyone expected. People’s lives and businesses were turned upside down and their normal daily routines no longer existed. Despite all of these changes, and also because of them, our industry has continued to grow.
A study from Parks Associates found that “one-third of smart device owners in U.S. broadband households have increased usage of their devices during the COVID-19 pandemic, including 46% of smart door lock owners.” While our clients’ wants may have changed, the need for a smart home is more prevalent than ever.
The pandemic created a sense of urgency for consumers to make home upgrades and improvements as they spent more time at home. Projects that homeowners were once putting off are now being completed, which has led to a spike in business; more than double for our company in 2020 compared to 2019. As people were developing new daily routines, a desire to be connected to their home, no matter where they are, gained momentum.
4 Business and Lifestyle Trends to Keep an Eye On
#1: WFH Fuels Lifestyle Changes
The quarantine-induced lifestyle changes of at-home work and school created an immediate need to a more robust home network for productive connectivity.
In 2020, we sold nearly 50% more professional-grade WiFi routers than the previous year. Now, as life begins to regain a sense of normalcy and the economy opens back up, it’s become a reality that remote working is here to stay and that many children may continue virtual school for a little longer or make distance learning a permanent choice.
Many people realized they even needed multiple workstations in their home. CE Pro’s Resimercial Deep Dive study found that 47% of integration companies reported they completed at least one project in 2020 that involved setting up more than one home office location inside a residence, due to virtual schooling and remote working.
#2: Home Entertainment Has a New Meaning
Meanwhile, over the past year homes became the focal point for entertainment. Homeowners have been upgrading their living rooms and man caves to make movie nights and home entertainment more enjoyable, leading to sales upticks in media walls, surround sound and automatic shades.
Speakers continue to be a hot item for both inside and outdoors, as our product sales increased more than 35% in 2020. Spurred by cabin fever, people are turning their backyards into an entertainment oasis with satellite/subwoofer landscape audio systems, outdoor TVs and landscape lighting. Wanting to get outside while and after quarantining, our outdoor TV sales more than doubled in 2020 compared to 2019 and TV sales in general increased.
COVID-19 also boosted our business for outdoor projects as it did for many integrators, as CE Pro’s outdoor tech study found that 47% of integrators reported the pandemic helped increase their outdoor tech installation projects in 2020.
#3: Need for Security & Surveillance Grows
On the commercial side, security is more important than ever as employees may not be working onsite as often, and business has shifted to operate remotely. User-friendly access control and security surveillance has seen strong demand, allowing for businesses to have constant eyes and ears on their office whenever they are offsite.
In our experience, 2020 product sales for commercial and residential surveillance projects increased nearly 95% compared to 2019. Supporting that trend, CE Pro’s outdoor tech study found that security and video surveillance remain a priority for exterior projects, as 46% of all outdoor jobs last year included the deployment of surveillance technology.
The demand for remote access, control systems and smart locks have also increased for both commercial and residential clients, providing property owners with not only added convenience but also peace of mind. According to a recent report, “57% of Americans maintain that owning smart products in their home protects them about 30 minutes per day, which equals 182.5 hours per year, or approximately a week and a half.”
#4: Demand for Smart Home Products Sparks Homebuyer Expectations
I believe our industry will continue to experience an uptick in popularity in many segments. First, as technology continues to advance, increasing consumer demand will drive more homebuilders to incorporate smart home technology into production builds to sell homes. We’ve experienced this as our integration partnerships with builders in Las Vegas continue to expand, and also recognize the trend nationally between companies like KB Home and Google, as well as Lennar and Ring.
Secondly, as many companies decide to make the work-from-home model the new standard, we should continue to see the demand for all smart home technology, particularly the need for stronger network, security and remote capabilities.
The past year has been a learning experience for consumers about smart home technology and how it can transform their everyday life, and integrators have been riding the wave and fostering growth. Keep focusing on these key areas and success may be right around the corner.
About the author: Nearly two decades ago, Christopher Sterle founded Acoustic Design Systems (ADS), a Las Vegas-based leader in commercial and residential home automation and security solutions. ADS earned luxury certification from HTA and is a member of HTSA. Sterle is an active member of CEDIA, CEA, Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, NAIOP of Southern Nevada, Henderson Chamber of Commerce and was formerly a SnapAV National Advisory Board Member.