Voice Search, Purchases Have Taken Off, And Brands Need To Get On Board

Here are some attention-getting stats: Across the U.S., U.K. and Germany, 92% of voice assistant users are using the technology to search the web, and 40% do so regularly.

Even more notable, more than half of U.S. voice users are now using the technology to shop.

Those are findings from the 2022 edition of the Voice Consumer Index from Vixen Labs, a European agency that helps brands and companies use voice tech. Vixen had independent research firm Delineate survey 2,000 people 18 and older in the U.S., U.K. and Germany (6,000 total) in May 2022. The samples were representative of each country’s population.

“Voice assistants and the assistance they provide have been in our lives in one way or another for more than a decade now,” notes the report. “We are turning to them without thinking about it, just to get things done. We see growth across all devices, platforms, and use cases, fueled by increased consumer awareness and an understanding of what their voice assistants can do for them. As the world unlocks [from pandemic lockdowns], people are turning more than ever to conversational technology to navigate their hybrid lives and businesses. We see more acceptance, a rising trust, and a decrease in fears around privacy and security.”

Frequency of voice use is up in all three markets studied, but particularly in the U.S. and U.K. In all three markets, at least a third of the population now uses at least one of the three dominant voice assistant devices:

While Americans primarily use Alexa on at-home smart speakers, Siri and Google Assistant reign on mobile (chart at top of page).

Shopping-wise, 25- to 34-year-olds are most likely to use voice to make purchases -- 67% of that age group within the U.S. report doing so. But older age groups aren’t far behind. In the U.S., 38% of even those 65 and older report using voice for purchasing.

Further, interest in using voice for shopping is beginning to expand beyond low-price point items into new categories, according to the report.

Previously, consumer goods and entertainment made up most voice purchases. Now, users searching and shopping across a broader range of products and categories than ever before, including fashion, fitness and finance.

In addition, voice users are asking about increasingly important and personal topics — even healthcare matters like finding treatment options for a condition or checking drug dosages.

Post-purchase, users are looking to brands and businesses to support them with customer service tasks such as parcel tracking, account management, and troubleshooting product issues.

“Now is the time to start helping customers across the whole consumer journey with voice technology,” from search/research to purchase to customer service, sums up the report. “It’s no longer a nice-to-have, but is expected.”

One key for brands looking to optimize for voice search: Focus on long-tail phrases instead of keywords.

“As consumers have become more comfortable using voice search, their queries have become more conversational,” explains the report. “That means winning position zero means answering questions, not just incorporating keywords into your content.”

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