Vivint: Canada fast-growing home automation market

Reasons include sales strategy and customer interest
 - 
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

PROVO, Utah—Vivint, a home automation/home security company based here, is finding Canadian homeowners very receptive to home automation, adopting it at rates that exceed those in the United States.

Vivint said its home automation adoption rate in Canada climbed from 57.6 percent in 2011 to 68 percent in 2012. By contrast, Vivint’s adoption rate for home automation in the United States grew from 51.9 percent to 53.2 percent, said Megan Herrick, public relations director for Vivint, which recently was sold to The Blackstone Group for more than $2 billion.

Three factors aid Vivint’s rapid growth in Canada: its sales strategy, a better understanding on the part of the public about what home automation is, and also the relative stability of the Canadian economy, Brock Walburger, Vivint VP of Canadian sales, told Security Systems News.

Walburger noted that when Vivint changed its name from APX Alarm in 2011 to mark its new emphasis on home automation services, it affected his sales force.

He said sales staff embraced the message from the company’s leaders “that we’re not a security company anymore—we’re a home automation company.”

From the outset, he said, “the guys were able to see a lot of success and the customers were happy with the automation and it seemed to be an easier lead into a sales presentation. … And when your sales guys are excited about something, they sell it better.”

Also, Walburger said, Canadian customers “are ready for [home automation]. They want it. They know what it is.”

That knowledge has increased during the past year as Vivint and the telecoms and cable companies entering the market have been running advertisements about home automation, Walburger and Herrick said. For example, the Toronto-based cable company Rogers Communications, which launched a professionally monitored security system offering in Ontario in 2011, is among those spreading the word about home automation.

Walburger said that in 2011, a number of customers were unsure what home automation was. “Whereas this year,” he said, “when we say we’re doing automation it’s, ‘Oh, is that like you can unlock your door from your phone and [control] your thermostat?’ So customers seem to be more aware of it due to commercials and advertising.”

Herrick added, “I think that wider sense of knowing what the technology is makes it that much easier when we do hit a doorstep because people get what a smart home is now, when I don’t think you had that quite as much the year before.”

Walburger also believes the Canadian economy is a factor in the high home-automation adoption rates. “Our economy is a little more resilient,” he said. “Our gas prices didn’t skyrocket and our housing market didn’t crash, so disposable income was still reasonably the same.”

That means customers have more money to pay for adding home automation features to their security systems, he said.

He believes the U.S. home automation adoption rate will grow to match Canada’s as the American economy improves.

How high does Vivint expect its home automation adoption rate to grow in Canada?

Walburger said the company has not set a specific long-term goal because some Canadian provinces are adopting home automation faster than others. For example, he said, the rate was high in Alberta because “it’s an oil province with lots of technology, lots of money, and a lot of new homes with more young families [who are] very receptive to home automation.”

By contrast, he said, the New Brunswick economy is “at a standstill” and many customers there are middle age or older and lack smartphones. “You’re not going to get up to 65 or 70 percent in that province any time soon,” Walburger said.

The company has set a 2013 goal for new account growth in Canada of 20,000 accounts, up from about 17,500 in 2012, he said.