Practitioners need to understand how households will engage with connected-home technologies or risk the failure of these innovations. Current theory does not offer sufficient explanation for how households will engage; hence, this paper aims to address an important gap by examining how households set “rules of engagement” for connected-home technologies in the context of electricity use and monitoring.
A review of the extant psychology, technology and engagement literature is conducted and yields two research questions for exploration. The research questions are addressed via 43 in-depth household interviews. Analysis includes thematic analysis and computerized text analysis.
The results include a typology of technology engagement (the “PIP typology”) and discuss three main roles for technology in assisting households: intern, assistant and manager. Key contributions are as follows: consumers in household settings may experience “compromised engagement” where the perceived middle option is selected even if no-one selected that option originally; households open to using connected-home technologies are often taking advantage of their ability to “delegate” engagement to technology, and because consumers humanize technology, they also expect technology to follow social roles and boundaries.
Future research may examine the PIP typology quantitatively and/or in different contexts and would benefit from a longitudinal study to examine how household technology engagement evolves. Four research propositions are provided, which may form the basis for future research.
Recommendations for practitioners are presented regarding the benefits of keeping consumers at the heart of connected-home technology goods and services. Specific design principles are provided.
This paper fulfills the need to understand how households will engage with connected-home technologies and the roles this technology may fulfill in the complex household service system.
This project was a collaboration with CitySmart, and the authors would like to acknowledge the important contributions to the project of Neil Horrocks and Reid Ossington. The project was funded by Energy Consumers Australia Limited (www.energyconsumersaustralia.com.au) as part of its grants process for consumer advocacy projects and research projects for the benefit of consumers of electricity and natural gas. The views expressed in this document do not necessarily reflect the views of Energy Consumers Australia. Funding was also provided by the following electricity network providers: Energex Limited, TasNetworks, Ausgrid, Western Power, Ergon Energy, Essential Energy and Endeavour Energy. The authors would also like to acknowledge the work of visual designer Natalie Sketcher, some of whose work accompanies this manuscript.
Letheren, K., Russell-Bennett, R., Mulcahy, R.F. and McAndrew, R. (2019), "Rules of (household) engagement: technology as manager, assistant and intern", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 53 No. 9, pp. 1934-1961. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-10-2017-0759Download as .RIS
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