H&K survey shows consumer confusion about ‘digital homes'

NEW YORK: A recent Hill & Knowlton survey found that consumers are in the dark about how to create a "digital home," giving tech companies an opportunity to show the way.

NEW YORK: A recent Hill & Knowlton survey found that consumers are in the dark about how to create a "digital home," giving tech companies an opportunity to show the way.

In its Consumer Technology Survey, H&K defined the "digital home" as "composed of integrated systems that reliably deliver digital entertainment, information, and communication services over a variety of wired and wireless broadband networks." In short, the goal is convergence.

"It's not about individual devices," said MaryLee Sachs, H&K's global marketing head and US chair. "It's about how they come together."

Once they had the definition, 90% of respondents assumed it was expensive and 66% said they thought it was difficult to set up. Nevertheless, 74% said they want technology devices to integrate.

"Tech companies have to be simpler in their explanation of how to do it," said Sachs. "It's almost like [consumers] have no idea how to maximize the equipment they have."

H&K's "digital home" results coincide with this year's closely watched Consumer Electronics Show, where the firm says "digital home" is a hot topic. According to the Consumer Electronics Association Web site, its members ring up more than $140 billion in annual sales. Sachs said the lack of consumer knowledge presents the chance for PR professionals to communicate all of the capabilities of their client's gadgets.

"[There is an] opportunity for us to make the bridge between the consumer and technology brands and devices," said Sachs.

The survey was compiled by Penn, Shoen & Berland Associates, which polled 1,000 people online between October 30 and November 6.

Among other findings: 30% of respondents said they will purchase a plasma or LCD television next year; 38% said they have no interest in VOIP or digital phone; and 61% said they were waiting for the gadget that was going to simplify their lives.

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