As advanced and robust as the smart home industry appears, sometimes it feels like more of the same. While this year has been a turning point for companies to build new identities, one business that really exemplifies the energetic, “new kid on the block” spirit is Loxone.
Founded in 2009, the Austrian company has made its mark on the European market, solidified as one of the most dominant home-control brands there to date. That success stems from packing a robust lineup of nearly 150 products – 90 percent of which is manufactured in-house – and by living by a simplified mantra. In creating a holistic approach to home control, maximizing benefits to homeowners, and reinventing the dealer as a solutions director, not just a contractor, Loxone is offering something more profound than only home control.
“One essential thing going forward is that the dealer has to become the technology manager when deploying the smart home,” said Florian Woess, CEO of Loxone US. “We are starting to look at things like lighting, HVAC, and security, and work with different contractors. [Dealers] have to be someone who looks over the technology and connects all those contractors to the homeowner, to the architect and [who] makes that happen. We see that as the biggest challenge going forward.”
Woess currently oversees operations in the U.S., with a stateside headquarters in Media, Pa. He noted that the roughly 600 U.S. Loxone homes are a good start, but the 70,000 European smart homes Loxone is in are an even stronger accolade. His success is due in part to a go-to-market strategy that enables homeowners, with any budget, to negotiate how much control they want. From mid-level projects just looking to free up some space on the wall, to multi-million dollar homes, Loxone creatively caters to a multitude of needs.
One case study proving the point is a home in Kentucky whose owners wanted to keep a thin sheet of Onyx stone behind a brand-new stovetop. By offering the lighting, control, design and support, the dealer was able to work with the homeowner and the architect to achieve a one-of-a-kind lighting fixture.
“Those are the kinds of creative solutions that we love to deploy with our partners,” Florian said.
Pioneering A Market, Redefining Dealers
What Loxone is doing is by no means unprecedented, but that should not take away from their success in shifting a market. The elements at play support a narrative that the dealer can get in early on a project, and educate both the homeowner and architect to an “autopilot home.”
“What we see in this smart home market, especially when using our product, is that it is important to get into the process early,” Woess said. “A lot of decisions are made early on when talking about light fixtures or if you are installing an intercom. You have to make the decisions before a house is built. We see that the most successful smart home projects are when the homeowner and the integrator work together from the start and are able to give input to an architect or builder that may not be comfortable with the technology.”
The Loxone approach to home automation is simple in execution as well as aesthetics. Anchoring the system is a five-point touchpad that controls blinds, lights and music while sending information about motion and temperature to the Miniserver. Loxone notes that the custom software is programmable to let each pad, in each room, control any settings that a homeowner may think of. Having music follow you into a room, making shades open in the morning, or turning bathroom lights on automatically are just a few of the everyday-use cases for the “50,000 tasks a year” that Loxone completes automatically.
“We usually call it our ‘360-degree Smart Home’ approach,” Woess said. “The special thing about Loxone is that we do not only deliver the products and software. We also give partners and homeowners a clear guideline and recommendations on how to automate and control a home – something both partners and homeowners are usually overwhelmed with.”
Loxone’s main differences consist of a three-legged approach. Firstly, a whole-home holistic approach that covers HVAC, lighting, intercom, speakers and music complements an intense focus on automation and making everything work together automatically. The third leg is a sharpened go-to-market game plan. They manufacture and design nearly every product, and they also distribute their products. The idea is to cut costs wherever possible and pass that savings to the dealer, who can ultimately pass it to the “client, electrical contractors, CEDIA channel, architects, and builders” to design and deploy solutions to the home.
It’s an approach that gives the dealers an upper hand in accomplishing a solution for clients while also building momentum for integrators to get into the planning process much earlier.
Industry-Standard Holistic Support
Supporting the dealer also goes past a few days of training, according to John Wechsler, the marketing manager for Loxone US. Essentially, the pain points start when the education support ends. He pointed to the fact that most companies give you training and then charge to use additional support tools like user forums or generating leads.
“Once you are with us, you are set for life,” Wechsler said. “Our support is all the time. It’s the kind of support that goes a step beyond in the industry, even if they are a veteran integrator or a new contractor. It’s really beneficial not to have to go on a forum and ask about trying to configure [for a] specific problem. We have support for it; it’s a whole package.
“You aren’t just selling our products; you are a Loxone partner,” he added.
Intentionally shifting the way Loxone addresses supporting the dealer and customer made a natural segue to focusing on the third leg: architects, builders and designers. Historically, dealers have burned bridges by over-exerting themselves into a budget, taking away resources from builders, architects, and designers. Loxone’s approach brings the dealer back into the conversation early, as they become the experts on designing with technology, not supplementing the design with it later. This is done strategically by creating technology that looks good from the start. Equipment is configured to complement design – such as the soft angles on the Touch Pure – or to disappear altogether.
“One thing that a lot of architects find interesting when using Loxone is that we also don’t want to clutter the wall,” Woess said. “So one of the things we do is use the Loxone Touch, which takes over all the control functions of a room while decluttering the wall from things like thermostats, 10 push buttons, or a motion sensor. We found that important for architects. You need a solution to put that together, and we provide that solution.”
All the elements put together begin to paint the picture of where Loxone falls in the marketplace. They have a holistic approach not only to the products they offer but also to the support they give to dealers and homeowners alike. The need for home automation is inevitable. At every price point, there will be solutions, but Loxone’s focus on catering to every need is what the company is counting on to put them ahead of the pack.