What Do You Lead With?

Jim McAward by Jim McAward | 03.05.2013

Security is all about safety and comfort – knowing that your customers, their property, and their loved ones will be protected from burglary, robbery, fire. From my years studying the market, I find that the “protection” message resonates with a fairly narrow audience, compared to, say, the audience for iPhones and flat screen televisions. While no one can know the exact number, my estimates are that between 18 and 20% of American households are protected with a monitored security system, another 15% had a security system but no longer do, and the remaining 65% “never had it and never will”.

Security companies large and small fight over the 35% of the market; most don’t systematically pursue the other 65%. My goal here is to encourage you to pursue the entire market – not just the narrow slice. For the 14 years I’ve been in the security industry, I’ve installed pretty much everything we make into my own home. It’s important for me to experience what you go through when installing products, as well as what your users experience from the products overall.

That’s me. My wife? She’s not as enthusiastic. My wife is quite like the 65% of homeowners who have never been interested in monitored security. She feels we have alternatives. We have a dog (little but loud). We have baseball bats, and my son (who is the first McAward who has ever shown talent at baseball, but I digress) is a good hitter. I have a variety of weapons on hand and I am well trained. Most importantly, my family scrimped to buy a nice house in a safe neighborhood. For all these reasons, my wife has had almost zero interest in a security system. I’d argue that my dog is smart, but not smart enough to dial the telephone… for me, fire is always a worry. Even so, my wife never saw the need for security.

Last April I brought home a LYNX Touch L5100 with WiFi and Z-Wave, and I upgraded to Honeywell Total Connect 2.0. I brought home a Honeywell Z-Wave enabled thermostat, a few light controllers and wire-in switches. My use cases were simple. My son leaves his light on – all the time. What eleven year old boy doesn’t drive his mother mad with such things? With Honeywell Total Connect, I can turn off his upstairs light from the driveway. When we disarm the system from the driveway, the porch light comes on to guide us. My wife likes the five day weather forecast on the touchscreen – it’s always ready for her. And, when Christmas came along, we powered all our lighted decorations with Z-Wave modules: one button turned them all on, and one button turned them all off.

A few weeks ago when we packed up the Christmas decorations, I heard what I’d never heard before. My wife admitted that this was a system she didn’t want to live without. In fact, she said it was pretty cool. Was it the security that won her over? Nope. For her, it was the convenience: and something to tell her friends about. Connected Home was the draw for her.

Five years ago, security was the offering, and lights, locks, and cameras were the curiosities – much discussed in the trades but not much purchased. Now, a fundamental shift is under way. Connected Home is becoming mainstream, and the expectations of a younger cohort of buyers are driving the technology. Security is now part of a larger offering, rather than the offering itself. It is part of the consumer electronics market like never before.

So, when you call on customers, what are you leading with? Are you addressing the 20% who are predisposed to what you offer? Or, are you addressing 100% of your market by leading with Connected Home?