A Smart Speaker Is In Your Future

Source: Adobe Analytics survey “State of Voice Assistants” (September 2018)

Like it or not, smart speakers are on a roll. A serious roll.

Less than four years after Amazon created the category with the launch of the original Echo speaker, almost one third (32%) of U.S. consumers reported owning one as of August, according to Adobe Analytics’ “State of Voice Assistants” survey. And that’s up from 28% at the beginning of the year.

The rate of growth is impressive but as the saying goes, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Adobe’s research shows that 79% of smart speaker sales occur in the last three months of the year — “Q4” in retail speak. The take-away as we head into the 2018 holiday season: Almost half of U.S. consumers (48%) will own a smart speaker after the holidays, according to the survey.

What’s the breakdown of holiday smart speaker shopping look like? The survey shows 45% of smart speaker owners planning to buy another one for themselves and 23% planning to buy one for someone else. For those who don’t yet own a smart speaker, 23% said they plan to join the party and buy one for themselves, while 9% look to buy one for someone else.

Owners of smart speakers are becoming more and more comfortable using a voice assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or Google Assistant. Three-quarters (76%) of those surveyed say usage has increased over the past year; 44% report using voice commands “multiple times a day” and 27% “at least daily.”

While most people still use smart speakers for rudimentary tasks such as playing music (70%), checking the weather (64%), asking fun questions (53%), conducting online searches (47%), and setting alarms and reminders (46%), Adobe cites a number of “emerging use cases,” ranging from making calls (36%), controlling smart home devices (31%), and shopping (30%) to sending and receiving messages (24%), playing games (20%), requesting food delivery (17%), researching travel options (16%), and managing finances (13%).

The survey also found that 72% of smart speaker owners are “comfortable using voice in front of others,” up from 64% at the end of 2017. Adobe’s interpretation: “Speaking to machines is becoming a cultural norm,” at least among those who own a smart speaker.

Among smart speaker owners who reported demographic information, 37% are male and 27% female. One third are 35-64 years old, while 40% fall into the 18-34 age group.

Adobe’s “State of Voice Assistants” survey was conducted in September and is based on responses from “1,000+” U.S. consumers.