While a number of potentially revolutionary technologies like VR or AI have begun to have an impact on products around us, there’s still some time before they become an integral part of our daily lives. On the other hand, voice-enabled services have seen a significant growth in the rate of adoption within a very short period. These voice search statistics take a closer look at this phenomenon and help examine how deep this technology’s penetration actually is.
The same data set also shows that about 35% of smartphone users in the world have never used voice tech, even though most would consider using it in the future. These figures are more conservative than another commonly cited piece of data according to which 2 out of 5 adults already use voice search once daily.
This can be calculated from the fact that 52% of smartphone owners in the US report using voice assistants on their mobile devices. This is equivalent to 41.4% of the total US population. Similarly, 19.7% of the US population has access to voice assistants through smart speakers. 1.3% of US consumers with access to a smart speaker do not own a smartphone, making the total voice assistant user base in the US equal to 42.7% of the total population.
This Google voice search number was shared by Google CEO Sundar Pichai in 2016 in the context of introducing Google Home. Google hasn’t released any related numbers since then, but it is safe to assume that the share of voice searches would have risen slightly in the last two to three years, even if bulk of the growth may have come from smart home assistant devices and not necessarily from mobile searches.
Voice activated Google search is now available on devices like Google Home, Android phones and tablets, iPhones, headphones, TVs, watches, and more. Amazon reported that its Echo Dot became the top-selling product available from any manufacturer across all categories on its platform during the 2017 holiday shopping season. Cortana, the voice assistant from Microsoft, had over a 100 million users by 2016, and 25% of the searches on the Windows 10 taskbar on desktop devices were voice. All these data points point toward one incontrovertible fact: voice-enabled services are getting popular among consumers at a relentless pace.
One of the most widely-quoted figures in relation to voice search, attributed to the media analytics firm Comscore, says that by 2020, 50 % of all searches will be voice searches. We are towards the end of the transition and adjustment phase with voice search. Soon, it is expected that, just like email and smartphones, voice search will become a daily part of our lives, replacing the traditional way of searching by typing our queries.
In its tech predictions for 2017 and beyond, Gartner went a step further and predicted that, thanks to the growing popularity of audio-centric technologies like Apple’s AirPods, Google Home, and Amazon Echo, voice-first interactions will become ubiquitous. By eliminating the need for using one’s hand or eyes, these devices allow browsing or searching for information even when one is busy with other activities like driving, cooking, walking, operating machinery, etc. The sheer convenience that it brings is likely to be the biggest factor driving voice search growth.
This tremendous growth is a sign of the value consumers are seeing in voice’s user-friendly interactions. Among the 22.7 million units shipped in the quarter, the most belonged to Amazon, even though its worldwide share has halved over the previous twelve months. Google ranked second, followed by Alibaba, Baidu, Xiaomi, and Apple, in that order.
This massive jump in the use of voice search products from 13% today is likely to be driven mainly by three tech behemoths: Amazon Echo (10 % US penetration), Google Home (4%), and Microsoft Cortana (2%). Despite Siri being the first popular voice assistant, Apple seems to be trailing behind in this race right now. Amazon has a particularly strong hold over the market, with businesses depending on its “Choice” status for success, 85% customers relying on Amazon’s suggestions, and a vast majority of orders in areas like grocery being made on the platform.
Despite the fact that Siri voice search is viewed as less capable than other voice assistants, its long-time presence on iPhone has helped it develop familiarity among users. Google Assistant (with 28.7% market share) has made it onto millions of Android devices, but the company still needs to educate users on its availability and capabilities. Surprisingly, Alexa has garnered a 10% share despite being available only on the Amazon shopping app for smartphones during the survey period.
Back in 2011, when Siri was introduced by Apple, or in 2013, when Google introduced its voice-search features, it was common for queries to get misinterpreted, leading to incorrect results. Beginning from levels of between 60 and 80%, voice assistant statistics show that word accuracy rates for most major voice-search platforms had risen to well above 90% by 2016. This improvement is likely to encourage more people to adopt the technology.
About 53% of smart speaker owners in the US in late 2017 were millennials or younger, 32% were from the Gen X group (37 to 52), and only 15% were 53 or older. Voice search statistics also show that teenagers are more likely to use mobile search assistants than adults are. For many of the users in the youngest age group, by the time they began using smartphones, Apple’s digital assistant Siri had already made its appearance, voice search a much more natural technology than for older users who are generally slower to make the transition from conventional search.
With minor variations, most voice search trends indicate that younger users are more likely to be frequent users of voice search features on their devices. 25 to 49-year-olds are followed closely by 18 to 24-year-olds in terms of usage frequency. However, the 18-24 demographic is credited with helping to drive early adoption of the technology.
According to this survey, the older users may have been slow to transition to voice technology, but many of them are interested in increasing their use to bring them at par with their younger peers. The corresponding figure for the 18 to 24-year-old cohort is 57%.
As per voice search 2018 data, more than half (58%) of smart speaker owners in the US make over $75,000/yr and 60% are men (vs. only 38% of non-owners). More than half of smart speaker owners have a bachelor’s degree or higher, but this probably correlates with higher incomes rather than education itself being a driver for adoption. People with more disposable income are more likely to spend money on gadgets like smart speakers. Same goes for men, particularly young men, who are the most likely to be early adopters of new technology.
The next two most popular uses are gathering information (42%) and shopping (39%). The functionality evolution of smart speakers is expected to reflect that of the iPod, which was used mainly for music initially but evolved to play media and answer queries in time. As artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning develop, and businesses embrace the technology to meet consumer needs, the sophistication of functionality will evolve among smart speakers as well, reflecting the trends shown by Apple Siri statistics.
The pattern of use is slightly different if voice assistance across all devices is taken into account. Seeking information on news, weather, recipes, appointments, relationships, etc. is followed by playing music or streaming videos (67%), accessing brands’ customer service (36%), shopping (35%), ordering a meal (34%), controlling smart home devices (31%), making a payment (28%), and booking a cab service (28%).
Google’s Answer Box—the summary of an answer to a user’s query that is displayed at the top of search results—is the answer that is also provided by Google’s Assistant and the Google Home device. An analysis of these Google voice search answers reveals that over 20% of featured snippets are triggered by a set of 25 words. The most frequently occurring terms are How, What, and Best, showing that brands should focus on content that answers queries with informational intent.
Among four categories of devices—smartphones, tablets, speakers, and wearable devices—it’s the owners of wearable devices who seem most optimistic about higher use of voice searches on their devices. Tablet and speaker owners follow closely behind with 64% and 63% of owners expecting more use for voice search features.
This and other pieces of voice search 2019 data suggest that the longer people use smart speaker devices, the more useful they find them to be, which is in contrast to some other tech fads like activity trackers in which users lose interest after a few months. 65% of smart speaker owners use their intelligent assistants more than four times a week. 81% of smart speaker owners agree or strongly agree that their devices meet their expectations.
In fact, 41% of smart speaker owners even admit that talking to these devices feels like talking to a friend or another person. This bodes well for the wider adoption of voice-activated devices and indicates that the potential of increasing utility is high. Another notable data point from this survey on Google voice searches is that 51% of 55+ smart speaker owners say that the top reason for using these devices is that they empower the owners by providing instant answers and information.
The ability to get information when typing is not an option is the primary reason why consumers use voice search. This could include instances like driving, watching over children, cooking, doing household chores, etc. Other important reasons include faster results (30%), difficulty typing on certain devices (24%), the element of fun (22%), and avoidance of confusing menus (12%).
This is followed by 36% for their cars and 19% for on-the-go. Search by voice statistics show that the most compelling use case for voice-assisted search is in a hands-free environment, allowing users to multitask. As such, there is likely to be increasing demand for more home-based devices and apps, similar to Amazon Echo, but also enabling other connected home appliances and devices by voice.
Other bits of data also confirm that voice users are desirous of having voice capabilities on different apps. Music apps rank the highest, as 50% of their users would like to enable and navigate their apps by voice. More than 40% of users want voice with other types of apps, including shopping, travel, video, and local services apps.
Voice search trends 2018 show that despite the massive improvement in speech recognition seen in voice assistants in the last few years, 44% of users report that there is room for improvement. 28% and 27% users, respectively, want improvements in natural language understanding and search accuracy. These numbers have actually risen over the previous quarter, suggesting that as assistants incorporate more natural language features, users start to expect more of this capability.
The voice shopping market was worth just about $2 billion in 2018, but it is expected to become the next major disruptive force in retail because of the strong penetration smart household speakers see across the world. Voice activated search stats show that, currently, the four most commonly shopped categories through voice are grocery (20%), entertainment (19%), electronics (17%), and apparel (8%). However, to drive additional spending, more apps within the voice shopping category and better personalization are required. Within this same period, the voice commerce market in the UK is predicted to be worth $5 billion.
Shopping, which voice search stats show as being the third most popular activity involving smart speakers currently, is likely to involve building of shopping lists in many cases rather than actual shopping. But 12% of smart speaker owners said that they have also shopped using their devices, pointing toward the strong potential of voice-enabled technology for ecommerce in the near future.
Consumers across age groups are using voice searches on their devices to assist with making purchases—a 41% increase in 2018 alone. Interestingly, the use of voice-enabled devices for shopping is most prevalent (43%) in the 45-60 age group, followed by 38% in the 30-44 age group. 15% of under-30 users engage in shopping through voice, as do 4% of users in the 60-plus age group.
Voice shopping by smart speaker has already become a monthly habit for one in nine smart speaker owners in the US. 47.3 million US adults have access to smart speakers. With 11.5% of them claiming to use these devices for purchases at least once a month, 5.44 million US adults have transitioned to making voice-enabled purchases regularly.
The highest percentage of voice searches related to shopping, accounting for 51% of users, are done to research products. The other shopping-related activities performed using voice are adding items to shopping lists (36%), tracking a package (30%), making a purchase (22%), providing ratings or reviews (20%), contacting support (18%), and reordering items (17%).
This and other insights from a Google survey show that smart speakers can prove a novel way for brands to engage with their customers. For instance, 48% of smart speaker owners would like to receive personalized tips and information from brands and 40% would like to receive info about upcoming events or activities from brands.
53% of smart speaker owners use voice activated search to look for information on local businesses on a daily basis. A substantial percentage of consumers also uses voice search for local businesses on their smartphones, tablets, and desktops. Because of their convenience for on-the-go customers, voice search services are often used to research and locate local businesses.
While restaurants are the most commonly voice-searched business, voice search statistics 2019 show that consumers make use of voice search to find information on a large variety of businesses. These include grocery stores (41%), food delivery services (35%), doctors (28%), veterinarians (19%), and childcare facilities (11%).
This is the most common action following a voice search, since it allows consumers to continue interacting with brands via their voices. Other common follow-up actions according to voice search stats are visiting the business’s website (27%), visiting its location (19%), conducting more research on the business (14%), and conducting more research into other businesses (12%).
Call commerce, which involves driving, tracking, and optimizing inbound calls as a form of business leads, is one of the most under-recognized areas of the media and advertising worlds. As we have seen, voice-enabled devices encourage people to connect with businesses through calls, making this form of lead generation and conversion an important channel.
Voice search marketing data reveals that calls are the most valuable conversions marketers can drive from voice searches. By tracking the calls driven by your Facebook ads, you can measure your full ROI and optimize accordingly. Moreover, calls provide a more immediate return on digital marketing investments. Callers convert 30% faster than web leads. Driving calls from voice searches is also more profitable in the long run. Caller retention rate is 28% higher than web lead retention rate.