Voice Technology Slow To Catch On

Several recent studies including some that are expected to be released this week suggest consumers aren't adopting voice technology as rapidly as previous reports suggest.

Findings from a white paper released this week by SUMO Heavy suggest that 46% of the 1,046 U.S. respondents to the survey conducted in April 2019 never use virtual assistants, with about 19% saying they use virtual assistants rarely. About 6% use them monthly.

The goal of the study was to understand how consumers view voice assistants and to assess the state of voice shopping and its potential as a platform for brands and retailers.

Consumers are becoming more familiar with voice assistants through technology developed by Apple, Amazon and Google.

Apple iPhone owners are more likely to use voice assistants, compared with Android users. Some 55% of Google Android users have never used a voice assistant, compared with 32% of Apple iOS users

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Smartphones are the preferred tool to access a voice assistant, with 49% who cited their smartphones as their device of choice to interact with voice assistants. Some 18% prefer smart speakers, while 15% choose desktops and laptops, 11% prefer in-car entertainment systems, 70% cite wearables, and 34% say they don't have preferences for any of the devices mentioned.  

About 35% of those participating in the survey said they use a smart speaker, with 85% who say they own an Amazon Echo or a Google Home. One in three smart speaker owners say they use their voice assistants daily, and 55% use them at least once a week.

Many analysts tout the future of smart speakers, but only 17% of respondents say they have browsed or shopped products using a voice-activated assistant. Those who say they will one day buy products through voice technology, 12% point to household products, 11% experiences like movie tickets and hotel bookings, 11% grocery and food delivery, 6% consumer products, and 5% clothing.

Some 55% of survey respondents did not select any of the options, suggesting voice commerce is a service not on the minds of consumers.

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