Voice-Activated Virtual Assistant Ownership Significantly Impacts Consumer Behavior, Research Shows

CommPRO News 224x180CommPro.biz Editorial Staff

The recent rise in voice-activated virtual assistants – for instance Amazon’s Alexa to Google Home – is significantly impacting consumer shopping behavior, online search activity, and traditional media consumption, according to a new study by Toluna, leading provider of on-demand, real-time digital consumer insights.

The Toluna Voice-Activated Virtual Assistant Survey worked with more than 1,000 U.S. consumers, and learned that owning a voice-activated virtual assistant is more likely to impact men’s shopping, search, and media consumption behaviors, more than those of women.

“As voice-activated virtual assistants become fixtures in homes around the world, it is critical for marketers to understand how the rising popularity of AI technology is shaping consumer behavior,” said Frédéric-Charles Petit, CEO and founder of Toluna. “While our research shows that these devices have altered the traditional ways consumers research information, consume media, and purchase products, they also create new opportunities for savvy brands to engage customers. Brands must carefully evaluate how their target consumers are leveraging emerging technology and shape their strategies around those insights.”

The Toluna Voice-Activated Virtual Assistant Survey uncovered a number of key trends for marketers and technology trackers to consider.

Consumers who own a voice-activated virtual assistant make fewer in-store purchases.

  • Over half (53%) of voice-activated virtual assistant owners say that they make fewer in-store purchases after acquiring their voice-activated virtual assistant.
  • Voice-activated virtual assistant ownership has an even larger impact on in-store purchases made by millennials, with 60% of millennial voice-activated virtual assistant owners reporting that their retail purchases have declined since acquiring their voice-activated virtual assistant.
  • Voice-activated virtual assistant ownership impacts male shopping behavior more than their female counterparts.  Nearly one-fourth of female voice-activated virtual assistant owners (22%) say that it has had no impact on their shopping behavior, while only 6% of male voice-activated virtual assistant owners said the same.
  • Only 12% of voice-activated virtual assistant owners say that their voice-activated virtual assistant has had no impact on their shopping behavior.

Voice-activated virtual assistant owners do less online research than before they owned their device.

  • Over half of voice-activated virtual assistant owners (51%) say they do less research online using traditional web browsers because of their voice-activated virtual assistant.
  • Ten percent of owners say that owning a voice-activated virtual assistant has had no effect on their online search behavior, though this number rises slightly among women (14% vs. 7% of men).

Following the acquisition of a voice-activated virtual assistant, consumers report that they read and watch traditional media channels less frequently.

  • Six-in-ten voice-activated virtual assistant owners say they read/watch traditional media channels less frequently (by asking the voice-activated virtual assistant to read news or play content) as a result of their voice-activated virtual assistant.
  • Nearly one-fourth of women (22%) say it has had no impact on their media consumption, compared to only 6% of men.

Consumers are concerned about privacy issues related to owning a voice-activated virtual assistant.

  • Two-thirds of respondents (63%) are concerned or very concerned that their personal information is being recorded via a voice-activated virtual assistant.
  • Concern regarding privacy is slightly higher among men (65%) than women (61%).
  • Those who own a voice-activated virtual assistant express greater intensity of concern at their personal information being recorded (46%) than those who do not own a voice-activated virtual assistant (37%).

Cost, security, and negative perceptions regarding usefulness are the biggest barriers to purchase for consumers who do not currently own a voice-activated virtual assistant.

  • Just over half (52%) of those that do not own a voice-activated virtual assistant cite cost as a barrier to purchase. Cost sensitivity is stronger among Millennials (60%).
  • Security is a concern for about one-third of non-owners (32%), and another third (31%) say they don’t need it or think they would use it.
  • Female non-owners say more often they don’t need more technology in their life (20% vs. 11% of men) and men more frequently report security concerns (37% vs. 29% of women).

Despite barriers, voice-activated virtual assistant ownership is poised to grow.

  • 9-in-10 of voice-activated virtual assistant owners say that they would recommend to a friend that they purchase a voice-activated virtual assistant.
  • Nearly 40 percent of those who do not currently own a voice-activated virtual assistant indicated that they plan to purchase one in the future.
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