Consumers prefer convenience over security

by | Jun 5, 2023

Although the Australian and New Zealand building industries have demonstrated a general slowing as a whole, the safety and security market has remained steady, with increasing consumer trends continuing in user-friendly digital home security.

New Zealand’s building and construction industry continues to perform similarly to the Australian market, with an industry softening now evident despite a considerable backlog of pre-approved building consents, Mitre 10 New Zealand Category Manager for Building Hardware, Hamish Graham said recently. Despite the slowing, Mr Graham says Mitre 10 New Zealand’s extensive digital door lock and padlock categories have demonstrated a healthy growth rate across the board in the past 12 months. 

Mr Graham believes the impressive growth is coming from customers who wish to replace traditional locks, or old-style mortice locks, with digital and electronic locks purely for the convenience and usability of the products.

“What is interesting is customers have found that when they purchase digital locks, they can just punch in the keys to open a door without connecting the lock to their phones or smart home system. However, now they can purchase a Wi-Fi module that may be used alongside their digital lock. Around 15 to 20 per cent of customers have purchased this Wi-Fi module and connected this to their digital locks to make it more like a Smart device,” he said.

“This is why I believe that a desire to upgrade home security is not primarily driving sales within this space. It is more the fact that people do not want to carry around their keys anymore and they would prefer to have a keyless system on their front door,” Mr Graham said.

Although purchasing the Wi-Fi module is a cheaper alternative to purchasing a Smart lock, there are not a lot of products on the market that have Wi-Fi built in. Schlage has one such lock but its purchase price is around $650, whereas the general price for just a digital deadbolt with a nice electronic screen is priced anywhere between $299 to $349, Mr Graham says. 

“It is then around $120 to add on the Wi-Fi module. But as I said I don’t think customers necessarily go for this product just so they can open and close the door. It is more of the set-up of the pin codes that makes it attractive to them because they will not use their phone to unlock the front door.”

For now, Mitre 10’s customers continue to show interest in the bigger, more trusted brands, like Schlage and Yale.

“I think we are seeing a lot more interest in the market particularly as technology becomes cheaper and some manufacturers copy the bigger brands. In saying this, I believe that a significant portion of customers would be concerned about the reliability of lower-cost products. There will always be customers who see pricing as a driving factor when purchasing products over anything else. The reality is, whether a product is expensive or not, someone could still break open a locked door if they really wanted to,” he said.

“Those choosing to purchase cheaper digital door locks are now finding that often these products do not wear well in wet weather. If a cheaper electrical product is on a door that is not fully covered by a substantial roof line and is rained on constantly, I think the lock’s durability is more of a concern than the security aspect for someone looking to purchase a cheaper lock versus a branded offer. While we do not sell the cheaper products, we are seeing a lot more come onto the market and Mitre 10 is investigating options within this space as well,” Mr Graham said.

In-store education

While the team at Mitre 10 New Zealand is already well-trained on digital door lock installations, regular training is also often provided by suppliers through the use of e-learning modules that the team can complete and earn KPIs.

“When it comes to cameras and the small offer that we do have within this segment, needing to keep up staff training within this sector is probably why we have not driven this category that hard and our offer is generally more focused on DIY. Trying to get staff to advise customers on how to set up a router for example has been a real challenge for us hence why we have not pushed into it that hard. Some of our stores do it very well but we are not overly focused on this area within our overall business.”

“What I have found interesting is that when it comes to the security cameras, we do still sell a lot of the older system that is not wireless. So there might be six cameras in the pack and it all wires up to a central system and these are still quite popular considering it is an older technology. It is surprising considering there are so many wireless options on the market. There are still a lot of older customers who have installed the wired cameras and have used them for years and are not transitioning to wireless systems,” Mr Graham said.

For now, Mr Graham says word-of-mouth also continues to market easy-to-use digital products with people telling their friends, ‘oh it’s great, you don’t have to carry your keys anymore’. 

“This is where a lot of growth for these products is coming from. Growth within this sector is definitely all about having a product on the front door that is convenient and presents great usability,” he said.

“For now we just have to remember that while a lot of our staff members are handy and know a lot about home improvement, they are not necessarily the right people to sell technology, so you have to work around this. But we are also finding that customers do a lot of research before purchasing security products as it is.”

“There is really not much difference between installing an electronic digital lock versus a traditional mechanical digital lock. If anyone has the level of skill to drill a hole through a door, there is not much difference in the skill set required and setting it up is quite straightforward,” Mr Graham said.

Looking to the padlock space, while Mitre 10 New Zealand did see a drop in padlock sales throughout the COVID period because people were not travelling or running their Airbnb, this has all changed since the lockdowns have ceased with padlock sales ramping up again.

When it comes to styles within the door furniture space, colours currently on-trend are similar to what is being seen within the Australian market and include the matt black as well as aged brass.

“Matt black is the biggest growing trend not just in door hardware but across all items within hardware. In saying this, the satin nickel is still king and sales within this space are always more than 50 per cent no matter which area you look at. ASSA ABLOY and Yale are the market leaders throughout this space as well,” he said.

ASSA ABLOY benefits Aussies with convenient offers

Convenience and usability continues to drive growth at ASSA ABLOY.

Looking to the local market, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions Australia’s Product Manager, Lauren Kendall says substantial growth is still evident within the Australian safety and security category, particularly as customers consider renovations and updates to their homes.

“Consumers have continued to spend within the safety and security space as they see the value of these products and how they offer so many benefits to their everyday lives,” Ms Kendall said.

It is the Australian consumer’s ongoing need for convenience that is driving growth within the category, according to ASSA ABLOY, particularly as potential customers see the benefits of installing smart security products around the home. 

When it comes to new product launches ASSA ABLOY continues to market its Yale Unity Security Screen Door Lock. Launched late last year, the new lock is specifically designed to provide consumers with a complete smart entry experience. 

“This product also enables a market-first feature – DualDoor™ Technology which is an exclusive feature of Yale Unity Entrance Series Locks. The technology works seamlessly with Alexa Smart Home, Google Assistant and more. With a single command, you can lock or unlock the security screen door and the main entrance door simultaneously. It provides a convenient, smart and keyless entry solution to the home, removing the need to search for mechanical keys,” Ms Kendall says.

Throughout 2024, ASSA ABLOY is expected to turn its attention to products that will become Matter compatible while continuing to focus on total home security solutions. Although ASSA ABLOY’s research does show that there are still a small number of consumers who choose not to invest in smart devices due to trust and privacy concerns, there is still a significant group of consumers who are interested in smart security. 

“We do not see a significant trend leaning towards traditional locks as the digital space is growing exponentially in this area. Like with many new products, there will be your new adopters as well as your traditional customers. We have a solution for the traditional customer who may not want a completely connected lock or is still deciding, our non-connected Assure lock is a solution for them,” she said.

“Convenience is shown to continually be a driving factor in the consumer’s decision-making process, though there is still room for improvement on educating the market about the benefits of smart security products,” Ms Kendall said.

“The smart home category feedback from consumers has also been that the space can sometimes be confusing, however, continuing to develop products that solve a problem as well as integrate with the major smart home hubs, helps to grow sales.”

ASSA ABLOY’s DualDoor™ Technology is an exclusive feature of Yale Unity Entrance Series Locks.

Staff training 

Ensuring staff remain up-to-date on new product launches enables ASSA ABLOY to continually provide consumers with not only a positive purchasing experience, but aftermarket service as well. Ms Kendall says this is a key value that ASSA ABLOY prides itself on providing its customers with throughout Australia.

“When it comes to our face-to-face product training sessions, we also find that having a social media engagement, including YouTube, is definitive to keeping customers up to date on the continuous home security solutions we are bringing to the market,” she said.

“In-store education is a key benefit to assist in the transition to a digital lock. You hear consumers complain about the lack of staff available in department stores and self-service counters. People still want a level of support when they visit in-store for purchasing a product. Education often starts online as customers seek to find out what features and applications are suited to their needs. Following this up with a great in-store experience helps make the customer’s journey to smart locks as pleasant and seamless as possible.”

“Informed consumers are also more willing to consider the higher price for smart locks when compared to a mechanical lock as they understand the market, technology and feature benefits. There is still a gap between consumers understanding what the product is worth and product pricing in the space. However, they see value in products that provide a true lifestyle benefit (eg: DualDoor™ Technology),” Ms Kendall said.

Integrations with other smart home security products and devices are another key purchase consideration with ASSA ABLOY seeing strong value in its integration partners including Google, Amazon, Apple and Samsung Smart Things because they add to the overall usability of its products.

Industry issues

Like many companies, there has been a challenging period of supplier shortages across the board including the electronic space with a shortage of semiconductors, however, ASSA ABLOY now sees this supply shortage stabilising. 

“We focus on forward planning with our suppliers to avoid supply disruption to the end customers. Through the dedication and consistent collaboration between our local and global supply partners, we have been able to continue to deliver to our customers.”

For now, consumers are continuing to seek out a cohesive product appearance for the home. 

“Through the lockdowns, there was a spike in home renovations and the consumers became much more open to special finishes with matt black becoming a new standard finish. Finishes that are trending in the tapware industries are warm finishes bronze and gunmetal, with brass continuing to trend into 2023,” Ms Kendall said.