As Smart Speaker Usage Grows, Voice Increasingly Replaces Swiping and Typing

November 27, 2017

Roughly one-third of US households own a Smart Speaker, according to a new study from ThinkNow Research. And it seems that the longer they own them, the more likely they are to use them for tasks previously accomplished through typing or swiping, per research from Invoca [download page].

Adoption Higher Among Multicultural Groups

ThinkNow’s research unsurprisingly finds that Smart Speaker ownership is higher among 18-34-year-olds (42%) than 35-64-year-olds (24%). But there are also differences on a racial/ethnic basis, too: Asian-Americans (36%) and African-Americans (35%) are more likely than Whites (29%) to own a smart speaker.

While Hispanics are somewhat in the middle in terms of adoption, they show the highest purchase inclination, with 26% saying they’ll purchase one during the holidays.

Previous comScore research has found much more limited adoption of Smart Speakers, at 8% of connected homes.

Voice Replacing Typing and Swiping?

Invoca surveyed 1,000 people in the US who own a living room voice assistant, such as an Amazon Echo, or Google Home. The results showed that an impressive 89% talk to their voice assistants every day, including one-third who do so more than 5 times per day.

The research also demonstrates that the longer they own their assistant, the more comfortable these owners become with it. Almost two-thirds (64%) claimed to be using their voice assistant more frequently than when they first bought it.

Invoca argues that as this comfort grows, people are generally using their voices more: 58% accomplish tasks they used to do through typing or swiping; 44% use their phone-based voice assistant more; and 40% talk more in general.

A cure for smartphone addiction? Half of Millennials say they’re looking down at their phone less since using a voice assistant.

There’s plenty of room for growth, though: 62% would use their voice assistant more often if it sounded more human. For the time being, three-quarters say their assistant doesn’t sound very human.

Implications for Brands and Advertisers

About 1 in 4 smart speaker owners say that they’re making more phone calls to businesses now, and they estimate that more than half of their communications with businesses over the next 2 years will be voice-based.

The Invoca study cites statistics demonstrating that voice now fuels 1 in 5 Google searches, and is expected to drive half of Google searches by 2020.

Search is in fact the predominant driver of voice calls to businesses, according to the report: 47% of calls running through Invoca’s system come as a result of mobile search, and another 25% from desktop search.

Vertical search & review sites are also a growing area of note for brands: 8% of calls come from social review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. As such, these sites are now the third-largest driver of calls to businesses, whereas they were 8th just a couple of years ago.

Marketers investing in search to take advantage of these voice trends will be encouraged to know that people using voice assistants are comfortable making purchases using them. Almost three-quarters report having made a purchase directly through their voice assistant, and 39% said that an interaction with a voice assistant had influence a purchase in the prior month.

A prior study from Edison Research and NPR found that well over half (57%) have ordered an item through their Smart Speaker.

There’s some appetite for advertising, too: most respondents to the Invoca survey are OK with hearing ads on their device a long as they have some choice over the ad and the ad is integrated into their overall experience.

How People Are Using Voice Assistants to Interact With Businesses

Invoca’s study details the various ways in which people use voice assistant to interact with businesses in three verticals. Highlights are included below.


People who own living room voice assistants have used them primarily within the travel space to inquire about hotels (58%). Others are using them to check their flight status or to purchase or book something.

Voice assistants are playing a role in the purchase journey: 37% of respondents who have booked a trip since buying their voice assistant used it during the process. That figure rises to 44% among Millennials. It’s important to note that Millennials are increasingly using review sites to make their leisure travel decisions – which could factor into their calls to travel businesses.


Slightly more than one-third of people with voice assistants have used them for banking, per the report. The most common uses are to check a balance (70%) and to pay a bill (59%), while some claim to have purchased or traded stocks (36%) using their assistant.


The use of voice assistants is more prevalent in healthcare (46%). The most popular use for healthcare is to ask about symptoms (70%) – an activity that likely is taking place instead of a text search.

Other common healthcare-related activities include asking about health or diet tips and connecting to a hospital or doctor.


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