Connected Design Publisher MaryEllen Oswald and Editor in Chief, Nancy Klosek welcomed Elizabeth Parks, president of the research firm Parks Associates, as their guest on the most recent episode of Insider Talk.

With the smart home market grabbing its share of big CE headlines overt the last few years, the trio jumped right into how the sector has fared during the pandemic.

“We have been watching this space for a long time and it’s a very exciting time to be in this category,” Parks said. “With all this disruption going on from new players, who are forcing traditional players to come up with new innovation, it ultimately is all to the advantage of the consumer.”

As you might expect from a research firm with a track record like Parks Associates, there was no shortage of statistical data  to pour over, as Parks has been covering the connected home market since the late 1980s, back when coaxial cable was handling the connected part of the equation.Fast forward to today, and Parks is now conducting over 100 syndicated research reports a year on this market.

As for changes in the space that she is witnessing, particularly during the pandemic, Parks said, “Clearly, consumers are still spending most of their time at home as some 35 percent of U.S. broadband households still have at least one person working in the house.”

While she added that spending is down, as consumers are watching their tech spending, “Parks has seen a big increase in several categories, such laptops, routers and tablets – some of the biggest increases we’ve seen since 2011.”

Parks added that that the pandemic has seen consumers increase their interest in personal needs at home, and they are tending to those, as she explained, “Whether it be work-related needs or home entertainment; many are just trying to find things to do.”

She also noted the uptick in interest in the home security market, “which had been around 30 percent for years – but recently we are seeing a 33-35 percent [increase], as more people are concerned over their online privacy. Consumers are now oftentimes making the decision not to buy based on concerns over privacy and security, if they don’t feel a particular product addresses that.”

Health and wellness is now playing a greater role in buying decisions as well, and Parks noted the smart thermostat category as example, pointing out, “The ability to control something like humidity level and detect air pollutants/air quality is now a big part of the purchasing decision on a product like this.”

The 24th Parks Associates CONNECTIONS Conference on all matters smart-home-related was scheduled to have been conducted back in May as a physical event, but for very familiar reasons, has now been spun into Parks’ CONNECTIONS Community.

“We are hosting about eight sessions leading up to our three-day event in November, where we’ll be focused on special sessions on specific topics. We’re going to look at smart home platforms, the integration of different ecosystems, such as smart home devices and home security systems – and then other user-interface experiences like voice, that can help play a role in integrating those together,” she explained.   All the details on these sessions can be found here.

“There truly is a large opportunity in this category, in spite of the virus, as consumers are still buying, and they see great value in the smart home category,” Parks concluded.

To view the full Connected Design Insider Talk episode, click here.