Here's What Voice Assistant Users Want to Buy Online

Consumer electronics, services are popular choices

Author: Rahul Chadha

January 16, 2018

Voice assistant usage is in the midst of a rapid adoption phase in the US. eMarketer estimates the number of voice-enabled digital assistant users in the country will swell from 69.0 million this year to 75.5 million in 2019 as their usage becomes increasingly commonplace.

While voice-enabled smart speakers—like Amazon's Echo and Google Home—have been attracting a lot of attention of late, the majority of voice assistant usage is likeliest to occur on a device that most people already own—the smartphone.

In fact, a new survey of adult internet users in the US, UK, France and Germany from Capgemini found that 81% of respondents had used a smartphone to activate a voice assistant service like Siri or Google Assistant. By comparison, just 25% said they had used voice assistants on a smart speaker such as the Amazon Echo.

Capgemini's survey also found that more than one-third of respondents (35%) had purchased a consumer product or retail item using a voice assistant. What's more, a significant number had purchased some type of service via the technology. For example, 34% had ordered a meal using a voice assistant.

The poll found a very strong level of interest among respondents in ordering services through voice assistants. More than half wanted to make a meal purchase through the technology, or to purchase some other type of service, such as booking a taxi.

Meanwhile, 52% were open to buying an electronic device through a voice assistant, while 46% would purchase clothing.

Capgemini noted that several large retailers—including Walmart in the US, France-based cosmetics outfit Sephora and UK online supermarket Ocado—had already partnered with various voice assistant services like Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa that will allow consumers to do things such as make purchases, book beauty sessions and add items to their online grocery shopping carts through the technology.

The banking and insurance sector is one specific vertical that is primed for voice assistant usage growth, according to Capgemini. The firm found that some 28% of respondents had already used a voice assistant to send money or make a payment, but 44% were interested in doing so. In three years, active voice assistant users project that 18% of all their purchases will be transacted via the technology.

One area that voice assistant providers are reportedly struggling with is how to serve ads without ruining the user experience. A recent study from Invoca found that three in 10 US voice-enabled speaker owners would be willing to hear an ad via voice assistant if they were asked about it before it played.