Challenges in Growing Residential System installs

Oct. 27, 2008

Dear Readers:

You are certainly in good company if you, like most people, find yourself wondering if you left an appliance on or a door unlocked after you have left home. A survey released from the Z-Wave Alliance confirms that Americans worry about the safety and security of their homes and would like to be able to check its status.

Some 72 percent of Americans want to monitor their home when they are gone, according to the survey conducted in collaboration with Kelton Research. The survey polled 1,000 Americans and also found growing demand for the benefits associated with energy conservation, increased safety, and enhanced comfort and convenience.

You've heard this all before and still your phone is not ringing off the hook with potential customers on the line. You may think that fear associated with false alarms is keeping household penetration of security systems at the current level of approximately 25 percent of U.S. homes but that is not the case. Participants in the “Leaders in Integrated Home Roundtable” say otherwise. Holding back the entire home systems industry, they say, is consumer awareness, product compatibility and complexity and misconceptions that the systems are too expensive.

According to GE Security's Greg Burge, manufacturers are eager to assist dealers in reaching mainstream America . “The real key is a well-orchestrated and sustainable marketing campaign,” he says. “We assist our dealers in that effort by providing co-op funding to be used for these activities. We provide turn key marketing solutions and the ability to interact daily.”

Residential system manufacturers are constantly challenged as they continue to educate dealers and consumers about today's evolving technologies, comments Lutron's Bart Manguno. “Lutron helps by creating the demand at the consumer level, subsequently driving demand up from the end user,” he says.

“New products and technologies have actually allowed the creation of better products….at more affordable prices! Manufacturers have also smartened-up to the fact that many new systems do not need such feature-rich systems,” he continues, “instead preferring to capture 90-95% of the most popular features sought by homeowners. In the end, regardless of how sophisticated new products are behind the scenes, most end users still want 1 or 2 button control whether the system costs $500 or $50,000.”

Honeywell's Chris Geiser suggests that targeting sales to all of the residential technologies customers helps the industry by raising customer awareness and eliminating misconceptions about the technology.