In our previous research, we've studied smart speaker adoption and usage and so-called "Voice Natives" as precursors for future consumer behavior.

The national consumer study we conducted at the end of 2017 led to more questions regarding smart speaker usage and ownership over time. So, this Fall we conducted a follow-up study (polling 995 US consumers nationally) focused on consumer attitudes towards privacy, device adoption, and Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping behavior. This is part of an on-going research project we're dubbing CapTech's Annual Consumer Tech Survey. For this post, we wanted to look at changes in smart speaker ownership year-over-year and how holiday shopping could be driving that further.


Smart Speaker Ownership Increased 20% Year Over Year

Smart speaker ownership is continuing to rise and mature. Half of consumers claim to own a smart speaker now as compared to just a third of consumers in 2017. Over the past year, smart speaker ownership has increased by 20%, with 50% of consumers now reporting to own a smart speaker. This points to a critical mass of consumers adopting voice - which increases its viability for many brands considering this channel as part of their customer engagement strategy.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals drive smart speaker adoption

As vendors work to drive adoption of IoT devices in general, and smart speakers in particular, we wanted to look at whether Black Friday and Cyber Monday contributes to this trend. The combination of an existing user base for these devices, numerous new form factors, and aggressive pricing had the potential for these smart speakers to proliferate. This is, in fact, what the data seems to indicate. Nearly a quarter of consumers polled (23%) took advantage of these sales to purchase a smart speaker for themselves while about 1 in 6 consumers (16%) purchased one as a gift.

Nearly a quarter of consumers polled (23%) took advantage of these sales to purchase a smart speaker for themselves while about 1 in 6 consumers (16%) purchased one as a gift.

Going deeper, what were the attitudes and characteristics of consumers that purchased Smart Speakers on Black Friday/Cyber Monday? It turns out that many consumers who already owned a smart speaker were buying more of them. Of consumers that bought one as a gift (not for themselves), 89% owned a smart speaker already. This group also used intelligent assistants (ex. Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant) with almost 70% indicating they found this technology useful and 78% using it at least 4 times per week. Among other factors driving adoption, this speaks to the positive experience consumers are having with their smart speakers once they have one.

Brands Should Take Voice Seriously in 2019

Early analysis of our 2018 study data provides compelling evidence that consumer adoption of smart speaker technology is reaching critical mass in the United States. For brands that have had a "wait and see" posture toward voice as part of their customer engagement strategy - 2019 will be the year for many to pilot and deploy voice (and chat) concepts with their customers. There's much more analysis to be conducted around smart speaker behavior and broader IoT adoption. Keep checking back and follow our authors to see future articles in 2019.