Three essential rules when selling Internet of Things products

Jun 08, 2016


“Only 11% of the public have heard of the Internet of Things, so you’re ahead of the curve. While the IoT may have huge potential for brands, you have to take care if you want to reach more than the early adopters.”– Kate Ancketill, CEO of GDR Creative Intelligence

misc-img-2Speaking at today’s Global DIY Summit in Stockholm, GDR’s CEO Kate Ancketill discussed the challenges and opportunities that the Internet of Things presents to brands and retailers. Selling any complex proposition to an uninitiated consumer is not an easy task, and IoT products face several barriers to customer comprehension and acceptance.

Kate Ancketill prescribes three essential rules brands should follow if they are to successfully sell the Internet of Things products to the mass market:

1) Develop easy, low-risk pathways to acceptance

We’ve seen how low cost products such as coffee, or fun categories like sport, are good gateways to understanding innovation in retail, providing soft-sell environments where consumers can experience unfamiliar products and services without feeling threatened or imposed upon.


A very interesting pilot for general Internet of Things acceptance is the Febreze connected room freshener from Procter and Gamble. This appeals to a demographic that is not normally considered early adopters, and introduces in-home connectivity benefits in a category that is low risk. Installing a phone operated home security system is nerve-racking, playing with room fragrance from your smartphone is not. We’ll be following this product closely as it’s a good bellwether for the future of the Internet of Things in the mass market.

2) Put the product into a real context

Talking abstractly about a product’s features and benefits will only get you so far. Being able to show a consumer how the product fits into and complements their lifestyle is far more valuable. Show how the product works with the real world, rather than an idealised home that doesn’t reflect how your target customer lives their life.

John Lewis Internet of Things department

Last month, John Lewis opened an experiential space dedicated to smart home technology at its Oxford Street store in London. John Lewis says this is a response to an 81% increase in sales of smart home products in 2015. The store has been selling Nest smart thermostats, Samsung smart washing machines and remote controlled lighting systems since 2014.

The department is divided into four interactive zones: kitchen, entertainment, sleep and home monitoring. Demystifying the concept of the connected home by showcasing connected devices in real-life settings, consumers are able to see how the Internet of Things can deliver genuine benefits, such as saving money, time and effort, in ways that fit into how they live their lives today. The message to customers is to enhance and improve your current way of life, rather than embark on fundamental change.

3) Establish trust

For some customers, investing in the Internet of Things is taking a leap of faith. If a smart watch breaks, perhaps the worst that will happen is that the wearer has lost a record of how many steps they took that day. A faulty smart thermostat, on the other hand, could see heating bills rocket or homes plunged into a deep freeze. Bad news stories about homes being hacked, or how Google’s Nest killed the Revolv smart home hub, really don’t help.

Brands need to promise, and be trusted to deliver, long-term post-purchase support. This will not only put minds at rest but also encourage greater integration of connected devices and the establishment of a branded ecosystem.

Darty button

French electronics firm Darty provides its customers with a physical button that connects to a telephone help desk in less than 60 seconds for 24 hour product assistance. Such a direct, simple connection locks the competition out of the brand’s ecosystem and provides fantastic reassurance to Internet of Things newcomers.

Kate Ancketill discusses the benefits of the Internet of Things for both brand and consumer 

Today’s consumer may not have quite got to grips with the terminology yet or fully understand the capabilities, but Internet of Things devices are becoming more and more commonplace. Cisco predicts the number of objects connected to the internet will have exceeded 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Ranging from Fitbits to smart fridges, in our homes and out in the wider world, the alternative term Internet of Everything is perhaps a more fitting description. Brands have found ways to connect devices. Now they must connect with customers.

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