Young people are more likely to favour female voices on radio and digital assistants

Amazon's Alexa

A consumer study has revealed that young people have a positive bias towards female voices, findings that could explain why home assistants like Alexa and Siri are gendered.

Neuroscience firm Neuro-Insight and marketing agency Mindshare, leveraged brain screening technology to observe 105 subject’s subconscious reaction to male and female voice assistants. It found subjects of all ages and genders were 32% more likely to react positively to female voices.

The response to female voices among younger respondents (under 35) was found to be even more pronounced with the female voice proving twice (103%) as approachable as the male voice. Younger respondents also found the female voice more compelling (22%). In contrast, to older respondents who found the male voice more compelling (25%).

Heather Andrew, chief executive of Neuro-Insight, said: “The differences of response that we observed were clear and compelling.

“Although in the past male voices may have had more authority, as evidenced by older people’s reactions, it’s apparent that this is no longer the case for the younger generation.”

As brands become increasingly drawn to voice-activated interactions with customers, Mindshare claimed this data will arm its clients with the ability to create in-depth strategies around voice interaction going forward.

“When brands start to engage with consumers through voice interactions, they will need to think about how they adapt the gender and tone of their voice for different consumer groups and purposes,” explained Jeremy Pounder, futures director at Mindshare.

“This research confirms the long-held belief that people find digital assistants with female voices more approachable. However, it also shows that there is considerable variation in the type of response depending on the age and gender of the consumer,” added Pounder.

The visibility of brands using female digital voices has never been higher, particularly with Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana products.

Additionally, Zoe Ball and Sara Cox’s recent appointments on BBC Radio 2’s two primetime slots could prove to be timely following the announcement.

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