US smartphone users are embracing voice-activated technology at a faster rate than their global counterparts

voice technology

It appears that American smart phone users are chatting with Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant and other voice-enabled technologies at a faster rate than the rest of the world.

A June 2017 study featured in eMarketer reports that 49% of US smartphone users are engaging in voice-enabled technology at least once a week compared with 31% of global respondents.

The survey looked at 1,000 respondents aged 18 and over in the UK, US, Germany, and Spain, and was conducted by J. Walter Thompson’s in-house think tank The Innovation Group. It revealed that international users find voice-activated technology to be a mixed bag, and have not had quite the positive experience compared to the US, with 20% of people in the US stating that they use it at least once a month compared to 16% internationally.

The report also looked at the impact voice will have on brands and found that, for brands, voice technology “promises to deliver a more meaningful connection between people and the brands they love” than mere typing can.

“We are on the cusp of a new era in technology where voice is set to become mainstream,” said Elizabeth Cherian, UK director at J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group. "To successfully integrate voice into their offerings, brands need to understand how the technology can simplify everyday tasks by adding value and removing friction from their experience."

The JWT/Mindshare data suggests that 27.5% of smart phone users globally use voice-enabled digital assistants and millennials make up the biggest group of users, according to eMarketer estimates, with 29.9m using voice-enabled digital assistants at least once a month this year.

The study also notes that US users are engaging in varied tasks more often than their global counterparts, including doing online searches, checking the weather or finding a local business. Further, the research has shown that one of the primary motivations for using voice is efficiency. The study found that voice interactions are less taxing than their touch or typing equivalents, with 50% less brain activity occuring when processing an answer delivered by voice. Furthermore, a stronger emotional response to brands occurs when using voice to ask a brand question, with emotional activity twice as high when saying a brand question than typing it.

“This study is the first of its kind as it delves deep into consumers’ cognitive response to voice technology. Intriguingly, it shows that voice promises a richer and deeper engagement with consumers because of its ability to trigger an emotional response," said Jeremy Pounder, futures director at Mindshare.

"Voice technology will literally give brands a voice for the first time and they will need to craft the sound of their own voice to maximise the impact.”

Laurie Fullerton

Laurie Fullerton is a writer based in Boston, MA with a background in business, sports, community, medical and travel writing. She has been a newspaper editor in the Boston-area, a sports writer covering yacht racing and a community reporter. She has been reporting for The Drum since October 2015.

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