Report: 57% of smart speaker owners have bought something with their voice

There are roughly 20 million smart speakers now in the US. And more than half of device owners have used them to buy something, according to survey data from NPR and Edison Research.

The data released this week is part two of a report first introduced in July. Called “The Smart Audio Report,” the data are based on a survey of 800 people who owned at least one smart speaker and an equivalent number who did not.

Part one of the report found very high levels of satisfaction among device owners: 65 percent of smart speaker owners said “they would not want to go back to their lives before getting one of these devices” and 42 percent said they were now “essential” to daily life.

But the core of the second report is demographics and purchase behavior. It’s somewhat surprising is that consumers have started to buy things through these devices. But the report confirms their potential as e-commerce drivers.

The survey found that 57 percent of smart speaker owners have ordered something using the device, while a majority of them have bought something they had never purchased before (as opposed to just reordering a regularly used product).

People aren’t spending trivial amounts of money either. Almost 25 percent of these voice-purchasers said they spent between $100 and $199 for single purchases. I’m speculating but I suspect most of the purchase behavior is through Amazon, though the study doesn’t discuss purchases made via Google Home vs. Amazon devices or their specific sources.

Among those making purchases through smart speakers, the largest single group is the coveted 18 to 34 cohort (45 percent) followed by those 35 to 54 (39 percent). Among those over 55, 16 percent of owners had made a purchase.

Clearly smart speakers are taking hold. The holiday quarter should see more of these devices as gifts and more voice shopping as well. In roughly a week Google is expected to introduce a lower-priced “Home Mini,” while Apple is bringing out its higher-priced HomePod at some point in the next couple of months.

There will also be an array of third party, virtual assistant powered hardware devices available for holiday shoppers — some powered by Google Assistant, some by Alexa and some by Cortana. And all these cumulatively are training people to conduct more voice searches across the board.

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