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Smart device manufacturers are learning a lesson that most internet-based service companies know very well. At least half of the consumer market is willing to trade their personal information, and trade it cheaply, according to a recent study conducted by Parks Associates titled, “The Value of Data – New Smart Home Business Models.”

The key finding of the report was as described above, but the report goes into some detail, breaking customers down by the products they use. For example, their findings indicated that owners of the following smart products would be willing to share their personal information if a discount on electricity usage was offered:

• 51 percent of smart thermostat owners
• 48 percent of smart clothes dryer owners
• 50 percent of smart water heater owners

Those statistics may seem surprising on the face of it, but on reflection, they’re nothing new. Consider how much personal information consumers readily give away when they use free services like Facebook or free email accounts.

What we’re seeing here, then, is a new frontier of opportunity for manufacturers. Smart devices make it easier than ever to collect detailed information about consumer habits, and the consuming public has already demonstrated a receptiveness to give away that data, or sell it cheaply.

In fact, the study found that in some cases, customers expressed a willingness to part with their information, even when non-monetary incentives were offered.

According to Brad Russell, one of the analysts at Parks Associates, “consumers are more likely to share data for non-monetary value related to warranties, product improvements, product education and remote technical support. They are less likely to share data to receive product recommendations or to simplify ordering consumables. For data-sharing programs to be successful, service providers and utilities need to ensure they are communicating value propositions that align with their own customers.”

The bottom line here is simply this: what’s old is new again.