• Words Matter: Rethinking Messaging for Home Networks

    I am pleased to welcome Michael Greeson's second contribution to VideoNuze. Michael is president of The Diffusion Group, a leading analytics and advisory firm helping companies in the connected home and broadband media markets.

    Words Matter: Rethinking Messaging for Home Networks

    Michael Greeson, President, The Diffusion Group

    Since its arrival in the consumer market earlier this decade, the home network has been envisioned as a linchpin for the delivery of all types of IP-based residential services including video, data, entertainment, control, and communications. Despite this lofty vision, however, home network diffusion has fallen far short of expectations. Why has this happened?

    For mainstream consumers, the phrase "home network" still spurs comments such as "never heard of them," "sounds too complex for me," or (worst of all) "don't see much value in having one." So how can these perceptions be changed? Here are a few thoughts that, while far short of being exhaustive, are no doubt relevant to this discussion.

    (1) Ease-of-use must be a common property of every device and service. We've been talking about plug-and-play forever yet we're light-years away from making it a reality. A "solid-state experience" is essential to mainstream diffusion, meaning that home networks must be as easy to connect and use as yesterday's consumer electronics.

    (2) There must be a compelling array of benefits uniquely enabled by home networking such that consumers feel they must have one. In this area, bridging broadband video directly to the TV could be particularly valuable.

    (3) Market messages must reject the language of networking - in other words, stop calling it a "home network."

    This last aspect is especially important, for regardless of how the technology and cost structures improve, if marketers aren't crafting their messages in language that speaks to consumers, all this innovation is for naught. To give you an example of just how important the issue of messaging is for the future of home networks, consider the following. During a recent national survey we conducted, consumers were informed of what a home network is and does (and in very simple language), then asked how likely they would be to purchase a home network in the next six months. The phrase "home network" was used three separate times in the description. The result? Only 11.1% expressed any degree of interest, with only 4.4% being highly or extremely likely to purchase.

     

    Right after this first question, we asked their interest in purchasing a solution that enabled them to wirelessly connect their desktop and notebooks PCs to the Internet from any room in their home - we didn't use the phrase "home networking" nor did we explain in any detail the virtues of owning a home network. We simply asked about the likelihood that they would purchase a "wireless Internet solution" sometime in the next six months. The results? More than 54% expressed an interest in purchasing, with 36% being highly or extremely likely to purchase. That's a five-fold increase in total interest and an eight-fold increase in high levels of interest - simply by removing the phrase "home network" and focusing on one particular application that we believed to be of primary importance to today's consumer.

    Think of it this way: I might have no interest in a home network (assuming I actually know what a "home network" is and does), but I am extremely interested in an inexpensive, easy-to-set/easy-to-use solution that allows me to wirelessly connect to the Internet regardless of where I am in my home. This may be particularly true for mainstream apps like video.

    Whether in marketing CE devices or political candidates, sometimes we need to be reminded of just how much words do matter.

    Click here to learn more about TDG's new report, "The Future of Home Networks"