Doing it the smart way : an exploration of consumer adoption of new practices enabled by smart products
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- Master Thesis 
Products across categories are increasingly being attributed with the adjective smart. Today, consumers are thus able to purchase everything from smart phones to smart refrigerators and smart toothbrushes. These products have been embedded with technologies which serve to elevate their capabilities and allow them to operate in different ways than non-smart alternatives. As a consequence, smart products can instigate changes to current practices of consumers. The purpose of this thesis is to explore why and how consumers adopt the practices introduced by smart products. This involves gaining an understanding of how consumers perceive such products, investigating their motivations for adopting them and determining what characterises the adoption process. To achieve these goals, the paper employs a qualitative and exploratory approach, which is empirically founded in interviews with consumers, observations and secondary sources. The collected data is interpreted through an institutional lens, which addresses the limitations of seminal adoption frameworks by examining the influence of social constructions on the rational decision-making of the individual and emphasising the impact of context on consumer evaluations of new practices. The study found that smart products are seen as technological advancements which either substitute or provide add-ons to existing practices. Products are more likely to be perceived as smart when they substitute inefficient parts of existing practices or provide add-ons that are congruent with existing practices. In addition, consumers can base their decisions to adopt practices enabled by smart products on social rationales, as they can be used to signal technological competence and wealth, and thereby contribute to preserving or enhancing the social status of the adopter. Reluctance to adopt new practices enabled by smart products arises in contexts where sacredness is attributed to parts of the established practice. New practices that violate the sacredness of established practices are less likely to be adopted. Finally, the paper presents a view of adoption as cyclical transition periods between practices.