If you read that headline aloud, and Alexa responded, you are likely part of the now 40% of US consumers that consider their household a ‘smart home’ (MINTEL: Smart Homes – US – May 2021). Up 17% from Q1 2020, communication was critical to break down consumer privacy and security concerns and fill that space with trust. Private conversations inside the home, are just that, private. No offense Alexa, but this is an A-B conversation, so…you know the rest. Inviting smart speakers into the family room is an adjustment, one that comes with questions which are now being addressed, smartly, before they are asked.
To answer the question posed to Alexa above, the future IS electric. In fact, it’s estimated that 58% of vehicle sales globally will be electric vehicles (EVs) in 2040 (BloombergNEF). However, that estimate can hit sooner or much later, depending on how the industry approaches communication, imperative to building trust, and ultimately adoption in this category. As we learned from the ‘smart home’ market, EV manufacturers can (and should) address concerns at the onset — have the conversation now.
Here is how:
- Ugh, Another Electric Bill – Investing in technology innovations such as smart homes and EVs have a notorious expectation of being expensive and unattainable. Brands can build trust and loyalty with consumers by being upfront and transparent about their costs. As millennials, we are willing to spend more to get more, but we need to understand how the investment will benefit us in the long run. This is an area where Ring, Amazon’s home security arm, is excelling. While the cost up front to purchase home security hardware seems high, in the long run, users are paying far less monthly compared to traditional security monitoring companies. Similarly, the upfront cost for an EV can give consumers sticker shock compared to traditional gasoline powered vehicles, but in reality, EVs can save owners up to 50% on maintenance costs over the life of the vehicle (Consumer Reports).
- There’s an App for that! – One of the largest barriers to EV adoption is the fear of limited charging station availability. Companies are already adapting to this pain point by developing charging apps to pinpoint and even reserve available charging stations, integrating charging locations into already widely-used navigation apps and offering services for the installation of home charging units. Similarly, Amazon developed its Alexa App to provide us with access to lists, reminders and more, even when we’re not within earshot of our connected home device.
- Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself – Understandably, consumers have a fear of ‘big brother’ and who might be listening to their private conversations. Even just a few years ago, consumers claimed a barrier to smart home device and smart phone adoption was that big tech was listening in; now those listening features are widely embraced as they elevate and simplify our daily lives; it’s as simple as asking Alexa where the nearest Hilton Hotel is or to add Crook & Marker’s Afternoon Dillight Hard Pickle Seltzers (they’re a really BIG DILL) to your shopping list. Similarly, EV manufacturers can overcome the public’s hesitancy of new EV technology by being transparent and forthcoming with hard data from testing and real-world performance.
- Impressions Drive Impressions - According to a Nielsen study, 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than they do from advertisers. For that reason alone, tech companies such as iRobot (Roomba) are accelerating their adoption rates by seeding product to influential consumers, who in turn generate positive word of mouth recommendations – doing the smart communication for them. Tesla set the tone in the EV market by marketing their non-traditional vehicles in a non-traditional way. Tesla avoids television spots, digital banner ads and out of home displays in favor of putting its product directly into the hands of influencers who provide honest and far-reaching reviews.
The EV adoption rate is accelerating with no sign of slowing down and as the automotive industry comes to a critical juncture, it’s time for manufacturers to invest in smart communication strategies to sustain this momentum beyond early adopters. Strong communication will do this, keeping EVs relevant and positioning manufacturers as valuable resources. Communications professionals who push the start button now can integrate trust and transparency with consumers to ensure the future of the vehicle market is electric.