I'm a strong believer in conversation – especially voice. Conversation is the natural way in which humans communicate, and this is the future of human-computer interaction. If you remember the two year old videos swiping on the iPhone and iPad, something similar happens with devices like Alexa and Google Home: Kids already know how to communicate with them.
Last year, my team conducted a survey of Alexa and Google Home users to better understand their behavior and satisfaction with the devices. This showed that interest in voice applications really began to take off, with all types of enterprises and brands entering space – media, CPG, retail, food supply, banking and a wider range.
This year, we re-run the survey to see if, or how, user behaviors and feelings toward devices may change. We also dive deep into some interests based on demographic data. The survey, conducted by Dashbot using Survata, included 1,019 owners of Alexa and Google Home across the United States.
The key to takeaways this year:
- Voice Assistant devices are variable in behavior
- Core features tend to be most common
- Third-party audio app discovery is still a problem
- Users are likely to use devices to make purchases
- The owners are happy with their devices and recommend them very much.
Voice assistants continue to be behavioral changes
As we saw last year, voice assistant devices are changing behavior. People use them throughout the day for a variety of use cases.
Almost 75% of respondents use their voice devices at least once a day, with 57% using their device several times a day. These numbers are very similar to last year's results.
If we look closely at male versus female use, about 64% of men and 53% of women use their devices several times a day. Among people who use their devices at least (less than once a month), women tend to control 7% compared to only 1.4% of men.
More than 65% of respondents indicated that the devices changed their behaviors or daily routines. About a quarter felt that the device changed their behavior a lot, while 40.5% thought it had at least a little. Only 19% said the device did not change their behavior.
A number of respondents described in their own words how much they rely on the device, how it is integrated into their life, and how surprised they are by how much they use it.
As voice assistants become more commonly embedded technology into other types of devices, I expect to see more significant changes in behavior. If you are a heavy Alexa or Google home user, how many times have you caught yourself in order to talk to your device when out of the house – at work or in a hotel room while traveling? Amazon and Google are working on it though through their business initiatives to provide devices at hotels and elsewhere.
Men tend to report more behavioral changes than women. Almost 33% of men answered "yes, she has a lot" compared to 20% of the women. As we have seen with the frequency of use, with women more prone to rare use, we also see a higher percentage of women finding the device has not changed behavior: 23.3 percent of women answered "no" as compared to 13.7 percent of men.
Interestingly, 19 percent of respondents who indicated the device did not change their behavior still use the device quite regularly. Of those who say "no," about 33% still use the device several times a day, and another 17% use the device at least once a day.
Core features are the most common
We asked respondents which features they use most often.
It turns out, listening to music, checking the weather, and asking for information, are the most common cases to use. They are also the core functionality of the handsets. Use of specific third-party skills is less common (more on that in a moment).
75% of the respondents use the device to listen to music, 66% check the weather, and 63% ask for information.
About 58% of people who listen to music do this several times a day, while only 34% of those checking the weather do it several times a day.
At the lower end of use, only 23 percent of respondents use their devices to control home automation. However, those who do, do so quite often. Almost 63% of respondents who use the device to perform home automation do this several times a day, and another 22% do so at least once a day.
If we look at the use on the basis of gender, interesting differences appear.
While the first three cases of use are the same for both men and women, women tend to use slightly higher for all – about 5-6 percent higher. For example, nearly 77% of women listen to music while 71% of men do.
There are some features that men are more likely to use than women. For example, nearly 42% of respondents use devices for sports scores compared to 18% of women. (36% of men to 26% of women), games (33% of men to 22% of women) and home automation (29% of men to 18% of women) ).
Speaking of shopping, let's take a closer look at the usage case.
Users are ready to make purchases using their devices
Alexa and Google also allow users to make purchases using their own e-commerce services and adding a link to an account – retailers and other services. Developers and brands can also monetize their voice apps through subscriptions and in-app purchases.
We asked the respondents if they ever purchased through their voice assistant. It turns out that 43% of the respondents have 58% of the men and 32% of the women.
For what respondents buy, products from electronic service providers (Amazon or Google Shopping) are the most common by nearly 83%.
Interestingly, food delivery is also quite common at 53 percent. The "rearrangement" case, that is, the ability to rearrange the same items as the previous order, works well through these interfaces, as can be done with short, concise statements rather than by ordering a complex menu. We have also heard from many food delivery services that rearrangement is quite common – consumers tend to order the same thing at a time.
We also asked respondents how likely they would make a purchase in the future. About 41% said it was "very likely" to make a purchase in the future, while an additional 20% said they were "reasonable" to do so.
Interestingly, one of the biggest indicators if someone has made a purchase in the past, or is more likely to make a purchase in the future, is if they have both Alexa and Google Home. Over 56% of respondents who own both devices have made a purchase in the past, compared to 43% who have only Alexa and 39% who only have a Google homepage. In terms of future purchases, 57% of respondents who own both are "very likely" to make a future purchase, compared to 41% of those who have only Alexa and 35% who only have a Google homepage. It may be that consumers who have two devices tend to have early adopters, and more likely to try to make a purchase through the device.
Third-party audio app discovery is still a problem
Voice interfaces are still relatively new space. Between Alexa and Google Home, there are about 50 million devices in the US About 40,000 of the third-party skills exist for Alexa.In our latest survey, many respondents did not even know the term for a third-party voice app, – Alexa and "Action" on the Google homepage.
The good news is, consumers use third-party skills, they just do not use many of them. According to the survey, 48 percent of respondents use between one and three voice applications, and another 26 percent use between four and six. Only 15% of respondents said they did not use any of them.
We asked the respondents what their favorite voice apps were. The more common responses were native features – listening to music, checking weather and receiving information. The more common third party apps include Pandora, Spotify, Super, and Danger.
For third-party application manufacturers, both discovery and user acquisition are challenges.
The most common ways to find users on skills and actions are through social media, friends, and device app store.
We often hear from branded and developer that social media, paid or organic, is one of the best channels to purchase users for voice apps. According to the survey, more than 43% of respondents found skills through social media. Campaigns affect viral videos and are also recommended to serve two purposes – to reach through the influencer, guidance on how to communicate with the voice app. Because this is a new space and a new user interface, users may not know what they can say or do with the specific voice app.
With Alexa, users can request the device for the latest skills or recommendations, even within categories. The device will go through a set of skills, listing each one by name and ask if the user wants to install or continue.
In addition, Alexa supports the "can fulfill the intent" option that developers and developers can implement to help users discover their voice applications. For example, if the Alexa skill can support pizza ordering, the entrepreneur can register it as a "can fulfill" intention potentially being recommended by the device when a user asks to order a pizza.
The Google homepage still does not seem to have a searchable library by voice. If you ask your device for the latest actions, or recommended actions, you'll make a "I do not understand" or do not try to provide a certain type of setting based on your request-for example. Describing "Sports Action" when requesting the latest "Sports Actions".
High user satisfaction
Users tend to be quite satisfied with their ultrasonic devices and recommend them very much.
We asked respondents how satisfied they were with the device's ability to understand, the device's response, and the overall experience. The results are quite positive.
As for the device's ability to understand, almost 44% of the respondents were very satisfied, and another 34% were quite satisfied. Only about 13% were somewhat or dissatisfied.
Similarly, 44% of the respondents were very satisfied, and another 35% were satisfied. Only about 12% were somewhat or dissatisfied.
According to the overall experience, 53% of the respondents were very satisfied, and another 29% were somewhat satisfied. Only 10% were little or not very satisfied.
In addition, we asked respondents whether there was something in the device that surprised them, and the results also indicated a high level of satisfaction. Owners were surprised at how much devices can do and how knowledge is the devices. A fairly common response was how quickly the device updates itself – "every day something new" and "like Christmas every day."
The owners are quite happy with their instruments and happily recommend them. When asked how to scale the device on a scale of one to five stars, the average rating of respondents is 4.4 stars.
When asked to rate the chances that they recommend the device to others on a scale of one to five, respondents are also ranked 4.4.
If we look closer at ratings based on the effect the device has on behavior, we see overall positive results. Respondents who said that the device changed their behavior much rated the devices as 4.9 stars and are very likely to recommend the device, with a 4.9 rating as well. Even users who said the device did not change their behavior rated the device almost 4 stars and is still expected to recommend the devices with 3.8.
We asked the respondents if something surprised them about the devices, and the more common responses were:
- Some device can do
- Some smart device and the ability to answer a wide range of questions
- Ease of use
- Ability to understand user request
- The user's dependence on the device and how to change the device's life
- Speed responses
- Quality of responses
While most comments were generally positive, there were a small number of complaints. The biggest complaint (rarely occurring in comparison with all positive responses) was the frustration of the device's ability to understand the user's request.
Overall, the owners of Alexa and Google Home are very satisfied with their devices. They are pleasantly surprised by all the things devices can do, how smart devices are, and how they rely on the devices.
While voice helps space still relatively new, there is an opportunity for brands to generate profits as there is a strong indication of willingness to make purchases through handsets. As more brands develop voice applications, it will be interesting to see which cases they use – how they use the voice interface and whether they apply opportunities for monetization.
As many respondents noted, devices are constantly improving – not only in terms of improved understanding, but in all the functionality provided.
I continue to be bullish on this space and look forward to seeing what the future is.
Arte Merritt is the CEO and founder of Dashbot, the Chatbot platform for the analysis of Alexa, Google Home, Facebook, Slack, Twitter, SMS and other conversation interfaces.