GARAGE DOOR TRENDS: Latchkey Kids or Keypad Kids?

© 2006 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Fall 2006
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Pages 46-47

Latchkey Kids or Keypad Kids?
Survey Says: Kids Choose Codes Over Keys

The term “latchkey kids” may soon be replaced by “keypad kids.”

Today, many of the millions of children who come home to an empty house are now using an exterior garage door keypad to get in the house. The good old-fashioned key is now running a distant second to the keypad.

According to the Chamberlain GarageTrends Survey, 33 percent of parents whose homes have external keypads report that the keypad is the number one way their kids enter the home. Just 22 percent of these children still use a traditional key to get into the house. Other entry methods include having the kids carry a remote control that opens the garage door (8 percent) and leaving a door unlocked (14 percent).

Setting a New Trend

Dan Nixa, Chamberlain Professional Products marketing director, says purchases of external keypads started growing in the mid-1990s. “It started as a me-too trend. People saw their neighbor with one, and they wanted one.”

The survey demonstrates that the trend to keypads, sold by most opener manufacturers, has caught on. “Keypad use has more than doubled in the past 10 years—and convenience is the main factor driving this trend,” adds Nixa.

Good News for Dealers

He believes the keypad trend is good news for dealers. “It gives our dealers another reason to contact customers with something new to sell,” he adds. “Armed with these research facts, the dealers become more valuable in their customers’ eyes.”

Since a keypad would be affected by a power outage, sales of battery backups may also increase with the growing keypad trend, says Nixa. It’s another way for dealers to bring new solutions to their customers.

This summer, LiftMaster introduced their newest keypad—the one-button-to-close version. “You still use the four-digit code to open the door, but you just hit one button to close it. It’s our ‘easy’ button,” adds Nixa.

The new keypad, which started shipping in July, allows the user to disarm the one-button to close feature, if desired. LiftMaster’s other keypad has been discontinued and is being replaced with the new one with no extra cost.

A Back-to-School Item

The GarageTrends Survey gives the industry a helpful snapshot of how the American consumer is relying on their garage door and opener. Charlene Leonard, Chamberlain’s advertising and PR manager, says the survey explored many details but particularly focused on the shift from the latchkey to the keypad.

“We saw it as a back-to-school story to help parents know that there is more to preparation than just arming kids with the right backpacks and sneakers, especially if kids are coming home to an empty house,” she says.

Overall, almost three-quarters of parents (72 percent) say they feel safer having their kids use an external keypad to get into the house. Almost half (44 percent) said that a keypad is easier for kids, and 23 percent noted that they don’t need to worry about kids losing the keys or remote.

The New Front Door

The survey revealed that the garage door has replaced the front, side, or back door as the most frequently used entry. Of those surveyed, 58 percent enter their home through the garage using either a remote control or external keypad. As technology improves and the wireless revolution gains steam, Leonard says that number is expected to grow.

The majority of people (54 percent) who have purchased an automatic garage door opener or specified one for a new home within the past 10 years have opted for an external keypad as their entry method of choice. In contrast, just 22 percent of homeowners whose garage doors are more than 10 years old have keypads.

The GarageTrends Survey
More Sales Ammunition for Dealers

· On average, people operate their garage door openers 5.3 times per day (opening + closing = two events).
· When it comes to using the keypads to operate garage door openers, owners with children in the house are using their keypads significantly more often than keypad owners without children in the house (7.7 vs. 5.9 times per week on average respectively).
· Over three-quarters of the people (78 percent) who paid extra for the keypad and/or its installation say that it was definitely worth it.
· “Convenience” was listed by 62 percent of keypad owners as a most important advantage to having a keypad.
· Of Americans who have been locked out of their house, the reason cited most frequently is that they forgot the keys inside the house (60 percent).

The Chamberlain GarageTrends Survey was conducted in November 2005 by research firm Greenfield Online, surveying 1,000 garage door opener owners in the United States. The sample was balanced demographically to represent households across the nation and has a maximum margin of error of +/-3.1 percent.