Why American consumers are concerned about smart appliances

YouGov
June 09, 2021, 6:41 PM UTC

Smart appliances fulfill a promise of the future. Send recipes to your oven to automatically set the temperature. Receive notifications from your fridge about when to use food while still fresh. Let your washing machine figure out how much detergent to put in. 

These state-of-the-art features are a reality thanks to the device’s ability to connect to wifi, part of the concept known as the Internet of Things. Therefore, these features of convenience come as everyday home devices collect data and encroach further into our personal lives. 

YouGov consumer intelligence indicates about a third of Americans say data privacy (34%) as well as hacking (33%) are concerns they have about these connected devices.  

Such worries are lower among America’s “early adopters” – those who are actively on the look-out to buy new tech or are keen to use new tech products – but they remain notable. About three in ten people (29%) in this group are anxious about data privacy and 26% are concerned about hacking. 

Yet for manufacturers, these concerns should not be insurmountable. Smartphones are ubiquitous and Americans continue to bring smart speakers into their home in droves. But tech firms may wish to listen to these common sentiments and be transparent about how and why their products collect personal data and what they do to secure it and destroy it properly. 

Privacy and security aren’t the only concerns Americans have – these smart appliances generally remain more expensive than their traditional counterparts. A third (33%) of Americans feel they’re overpriced and 26% of early adopters agree. Related, 17% of Americans are concerned about the cost of running these machines. 

These connected devices are likely to come down in price eventually. However right now, appliances of nearly all types, smart or not, are selling at higher prices thanks to inflated pandemic demand and the global shortage of computer chips plaguing nearly every industry. A considerable number of Americans are also concerned about general usability of smart appliances – 29% say they’re uneasy about not being able to use them if their internet connection is down, 22% are worried about getting locked out, and 23% say they’re anxious about remembering passwords. 

Rounding out Americans’ list of concerns is limited connectivity between smart appliances from different manufacturers, at 13%. This is the only concern on our list that is more likely to be held by early adopters (16%). The industry is actively working to address these concerns, with several brands announcing participation in the Connectivity Standards Alliance. This coalition’s aim is to deliver open standards for smart home devices and other parts of the “Internet of Things.” 

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Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data referenced is based on a sample size of 74,817 US adults and 11,410 early adopters. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.