Study Finds Consumers Are Embracing Voice Services. Here's How

Fad or fab? When it comes to voice devices and services, survey says: Fab.

Indeed, consumers’ use of voice services is on the rise, according to new research by Adobe Analytics, which surveyed over 1,000 U.S. consumers. The study found the most common voice activities are asking for music (70%) and the weather forecast (64%) via smart speakers. Other popular activities include asking fun questions (53%), online search (47%), checking the news (46%), basic research/confirming info (35%), and asking directions (34%). 

The study also uncovered some newer voice-based tasks. Thirty-six percent of consumers surveyed said they use voice to make a call, 31% do so for smart-home commands, 30% for shopping/ordering items, 17% for food delivery/takeout, and 16% for flight/hotel research.

“Technology trends come and go, but we think voice is here to stay,” said Colin Morris, director of product management for Adobe Analytics. “Consumers continue to embrace voice as a means to engage their devices and the Internet. It’s a trend that has fundamentally changed the face of computing.”

Smartphone speaker ownership, the study found, is driving voice usage. Thirty-two percent of consumers reported owning a smart speaker in August 2018, compared with 28% in January 2018—a 14% increase in just a few months. The growth is considerable given that 79% of smart speaker sales occur in Q4, Morris pointed out.

Additionally, use of voice assistants is up, with 76% of smart speaker owners who cited an increase in the past year. Seventy-one percent of smart speaker owners reported using them at least daily—44% of which said “multiple times a day.” Only 8% of owners reported almost never using them.  

Of course, we’re still in the early days of voice, and most people aren’t yet buying directly via smart speakers. But smart speakers are aiding consumers in the early stages of the shopping process. Nearly half (47%) of smart speaker owners reported using one to initiate product search and research, 43% said they use them for creating shopping lists, and 32% do so for price comparison.

Marketers should note that voice interest remains high for the upcoming holiday season, Adobe’s Colin said. In fact, 45% of consumers who already own a smart speaker said they plan to purchase another one for themselves, and 23% plan to buy one for someone else. Additionally, 23% of non-owners said they plan to buy one for themselves, while 9% plan to purchase one for someone else.

“As voice technology matures and becomes more refined, consumers are finding different ways to leverage it,” Morris told CMO by Adobe. “Brands are now in a place where they have to integrate voice into their overall strategy. In order to deliver an experience that feels connected and seamless, they not only need data, but they also require the tools to drive action, better personalize, and polish the content the serve—all of which require a holistic, cross-channel view of the customer.”

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