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The Rise of the Voice Assistants

Voice assistants are those beneficial digital characters that activate with a command word and do just as their moniker suggests — they assist the user in any way they are programmed. Voice assistants come in a plethora of different devices, commonly countertop hubs and smartphones. The adoption and usage of voice assistant technology are widespread among consumers, and the majority of people in today’s society have either heard of the technology, actively use the technology, or both.

Why are voice assistants so popular, and why are so many tech companies installing voice assistants into their devices? The answer isn’t as simple as it appears.

What is clear is that voice assistant technology is popular, useful, widely adopted, and here to stay. Many companies are already tapping into the relatively new market that voice assistants have opened, but there are still many more companies that have yet to take that leap.



Unfortunately, for those not jumping on the bandwagon, they are missing out on a vital segment of the population using voice assistants in their everyday lives. Consumer awareness of technology, devices, and capabilities is rapidly increasing. This has led to the technology actively shifting the way we search the internet, experience advertisements, consume content, and purchase products and services.


Who is adopting the technology the most?

Younger consumers, those between 18 and 24-years-old, are adopting voice assistant technology faster than other age groups. This rapid adoption is likely due to the rampant concept of FOMO, or fear of missing out. Young consumers overall are more likely to adopt new technologies quicker than their older counterparts.

However, the 18 to 24-years-old segment tends to use the technology less than older age groups, even though they generally possess more voice assistant enabled devices. Instead, 25 to 49-year-olds use voice technology the most of the other age groups and are often labeled “heavy” users.



Which enabled devices are used more often?

Even though voice assistant technology is in many mobile devices and other objects used outside the home, like some vehicles, the majority of consumers using the technology prefer to do so in privacy, usually at home. Many consumers are uncomfortable with using their voice to activate their smart device in public. This might help explain why 18 to 24-year-olds use voice assistants less than older populations.

Despite voice assistants being available everywhere, they are less used in public, making their capabilities slightly less practical for the average consumer.


What are enabled devices capable of doing?

The skills available in voice assistant devices are innumerable, reaching into nearly every industry and potentially helpful in every aspect of a user's typical day. Despite the skills options available, the majority of consumers only use their voice assistants for mundane or basic tasks. Fewer people are using their voice assistants to control elements in a smart home than are using the assistants for keeping to-do lists and cooking timers. Males and younger consumers are more likely to branch off into more advanced skills, but the levels are lower than expected.



Why aren’t people using advanced skills? There is often a lack of knowledge about the available capabilities paired with a lack of experimentation on the user’s part. There may also be trust issues stemming from negative experiences with voice assistants.

Interestingly, many users have tried shopping with their assistants, though they limit their purchase to items they don’t need to see before buying. Many users are comfortable purchasing less expensive items and other objects they do not need to see to check the quality. One potential downside of shopping via voice assistant is the chance of an unauthorized person making purchases without permission, like children.


How well do voice assistants work with smartphones?

Satisfaction rates are generally high with the majority of at-home smart assistant devices. Where they start lagging is voice technology that is implemented in a smartphone or other mobile device. Smartphone voice assistants consistently have a lower satisfaction rate than countertop assistants, caused by a lack of reliability and accuracy compared to other devices. Consumers who regularly use the voice assistant on their smartphones are unsatisfied by how infrequently the assistant responds accurately, which may play a role in why younger users utilize the technology less frequently.


Conclusion

Circling back to the original questions, why are voice assistants so popular, and why are so many tech companies installing voice assistants into their devices?


Users of all ages, but especially younger generations, are adopting and using the technology more frequently than ever. This utilization is likely a direct result of both FOMO and how well the technology meets users’ needs. Voice assistants are smarter and easier to use than when they first hit the market, and they have more available apps and skills that keep users on task, punctual, engaged, consuming, entertained, etc. Satisfaction rates are high for most devices, and, when used correctly, most voice assistants can accomplish impressive and advanced tasks that make them the ideal technology to use in many situations.


As far as business goes, voice assistant technology is rapidly evolving both in how well it works technologically speaking and in how it’s changing the way consumers interact with brands. Businesses that enter the voice assistant market can take advantage of a new way of reaching and interacting with consumers directly in their homes, bringing in new customers and increasing conversion rates.

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