Commentary

Smart Home Product Marketing Moves To Retail Store Aisles

Much of the ground work is underway to get consumers at least aware of and even interested in buying smart devices.

Any look at the number of smart devices displayed in stores today compared to a year ago shows that, at the very least, manufacturers and marketers are gearing up for a very big IoT push.

At the MediaPost IoT Marketing Forum in New York last week, I asked Bill Lee, VP, Smart Home Marketing at Samsung Electronics America, how Samsung is dealing with essentially getting the IoT word out throughout the purchase cycle.

For example, a year ago Best Buy had some relatively small IoT product displays in stores. Not so today.

“Best Buy, from an execution standpoint, we would consider best in class,” Lee said.

But it’s not only the products being displayed that may help sway consumers.

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“We make sure that the Best Buy blue shirts, who we believe are best in class, are educated upstream to intercept consumers as they come in,” Lee said.

But it’s not only going to be up to sales associates in stores to get consumers on board.

“Frankly, we have to communicate and educate consumers at the top of the funnel,” he said. “We get them both ways. For consumers, let’s get them pumped. Let’s let them know that model X, Y or Z that sells for $11.99 is connected. Today.”

After the summer, consumer marketing for Internet-connected products is likely to take off, getting holiday shoppers in the mindset that this stuff is valuable and works.

Already in Best Buy are large displays loaded with smart lights from Philips, Nest thermostats, Ring video doorbells, Canary home video monitors, Ecobee thermostats, Belkin Wemo switches and various Samsung SmartThings products.

It eventually will be likely for a Best Buy shopper in the store for a PC or mobile phone not to come across at least one display for some category of smart device.

At the very least, these displays should start to cause shoppers to ask a salesperson what these things do.

For many consumers, that may be the first introduction to the Internet of Things, even if they never hear the term.

The biggest early IoT marketing may effectively occur in store aisles, since they’re starting to be flooded with a wide range of smart object.

Those retailers then will be charged with convincing consumers that things like a $29 smart light bulb, video-triggering doorbell or remotely controlled thermostat should be added to their home.

And many holiday shoppers already will have heard or seen about some of these objects on TV, where promotions for smart home devices like Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo have been playing for some time.

The Internet of Things is coming to a store near pretty much everyone.

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