Commercial and industrial applications have always been the mainstay for many security installers. Insurance requirements for a police first response, the deterrent effect and the understandable costs of downtime and repairs after a break-in are all reasons all businesses need security systems.
The same can’t be said of the domestic market. Residential users don’t always appreciate the benefits of a professionally installed and maintained system, meaning buying decisions are often based on price rather than system performance.
Encouraged by stories in the press, many homeowners also doubt that the police will respond. The proliferation of DIY alarm kits or ‘cheap’ fitted systems (and their associated false alarms) exacerbates this problem.
This means that for many domestic end users, an intruder alarm system is often seen as something of a ‘grudge purchase’.
Defeating the ‘grudge’
This resistance by domestic customers to purchase professional security systems isn’t about to change overnight. Research by Texecom shows that people often resent having to pay for an intruder alarm system, not because they don’t see its value, but because it’s designed to stop them being a ‘victim’, with all the negative connotations this involves.
Texecom’s research also identifies widespread misconceptions in the domestic market about the cost of professional alarm systems. Users’ expectations are often influenced by the price point of DIY kits or low-end systems from less-than-professional companies. While many of these systems inevitably underperform or don’t meet the required standards, they do affect the public’s perception of system costs.
A changing landscape
Despite this, Texecom has identified new and emerging trends in the wider technology sector, with the emergence of tech-savvy end users. Interest in smart technologies, connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) has raised the profile of security in residential applications and a growing number of security installers are exploiting this demand to offer more comprehensive alarm systems.
Texecom looked closely at those householders most likely to embrace these emerging technologies and, interestingly, the main target audience differs from those that typically show an interest in professional alarm systems.
While older people with higher levels of disposable income are most likely to opt for alarm systems, the growing market for smart technologies is amongst young professionals and middle-aged consumers who are already active users of mobile devices and apps.
Domestic end users clearly want products that fit in with their lifestyles. Suppliers of most other technologies recognise this: personal computing, audio-visual, home automation, and data handling and sharing are just a few examples.
Most intruder detection systems, unfortunately, don’t fit in with how residential end users want to control and manage their homes, often not allowing the level of integration with other home systems that customers require.
There is a growing number of householders investing in intelligent devices for their homes – and they want to add security and protection to the services used. While the smart home sector includes some (non-security) vendors offering basic cloud-based alarm systems, most domestic end users don’t want these. What they want is to take control of the system, to effectively own it and make their own choices as what features it has and how it’s used.
So why don’t these end-users come to the security industry for assistance? Because the industry isn’t actively promoting smart home concepts, lifestyle choices or alternatives to traditional monitored alarms or bells-only systems – despite most intruder alarm systems having the capabilities to offer so much more in terms of flexibility and smart functionality.
This gap in the market has already attracted comment from research provider IHS. The company identified companies in the US that are now specifically targeting domestic users who don’t want traditional alarms. These installation companies recognise that customers will happily invest in a security system that offers smarter options. Often these systems also deliver home automation, video, data sharing, remote control and communications. In short, they are seeking alarm-based solutions that offer added value.
Today’s intruder alarm systems feature advanced technologies that can deliver a world of possibilities and add considerable value, while the core graded element of the system continues to offer police first response or a credible bells-only solution to a professional standard.
Where risks are high and insurance is essential, the end user can still do whatever the insurer demands. However, by partitioning a control panel for example, its inherent capabilities can also be used to deliver other ‘lifestyle’ services without compromising on the alarm grading.
In many mainstream applications, the value proposition for an intruder alarm system should not stop at security. While it is a challenge to sell a monitored security system to a domestic user who is sceptical about police response, the task is made easier if other benefits – which can be used on a day-to-day basis – are included. These could include, for example, push notifications of site status changes, text messages relating to household activity, visual verification of events, fire protection, home automation and remote control of peripheral devices.
Interestingly, Texecom’s research found that while some in the residential market might baulk at the cost of a monitored alarm, it’s not always the case that they only want something cheap or won’t pay for a quality security system. Their reluctance may be because they’re being asked to invest in a system that doesn’t interact to the degree they expect. If they don’t believe a police response will occur, then monitoring seems an unnecessary expense. However, additional communications options could increase the perceived value of the system.
Today’s security technologies allow end users to make their own decisions as to how alarm events are handled. If a user wants to be alerted to an intrusion before a criminal has forced an entry, that’s simple to implement; if they want to verify external detections to filter out nuisance activations, that can also be done; if they want to share data from the system or use it to issue notifications about security, site status or personnel status (including monitoring family members, children, vulnerable and elderly relatives, etc.) it can be done without any complex additions to the system.
Additional services can be offered to fully exploit the potential of the control panel while preserving compliance with standards. This allows domestic users to benefit from credible security protection that also meets their demands for more lifestyle-centric features.