The Summer of 2017/18 was met with huge excitement about the arrival of in-home voice speakers and the growth of brands developing ‘voice experiences’. Google had launched their ‘Google Home’ speaker in July that year and Amazon followed suit with Alexa arriving Down Under several months later. Some brands were quick to adopt the technology, eagerly pushed by Amazon’s influx of resource Down Under - and good on them – whilst others were more sceptical.
In 2019, we foresee that whilst voice is still ‘coming’, there’s still a long way to go before it pays dividends for brands and the medium truly catches alight.
For those going ‘WTF is voice’ – we’re essentially referring to personal voice assistants like Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. These assistants are widely available for use across a multitude of devices like your phone, computer and even car. But most of the excitement lies with the opportunity for ‘in-home’ voice speakers, which Google and Amazon are battling to insert into homes worldwide.
A recent study conducted by Research Ink (RI) and Versa found that as of December 2018, 1.35 million Australian households currently own an in-home voice speaker, approximately 13.5% of all Aussie homes. This figure is well up from Telstyte’s estimation back in May 2018 that there were only half a million devices in Aussie homes, further supporting RI’s assertion that voice adoption grew 200% in the second half of 2018 alone. A staggering figure which by all accounts, smashed Google’s global year-in-market records. But what’s even more exciting for Google, Amazon and you, is that a third of Australian households reported an intent to purchase a device within the next 12 months. Take note, voice is coming.
However! These results are great for Google – but not for you just yet. 77% of consumers asked by RI reported that they didn’t see the value of owning and using a voice device for commerce. Whilst a voice assistant may be a great source to get the news, estimate your travel times or find out the weather; it’s not yet a great place to buy toilet paper or that dress you like from ASOS. Consumers aren’t comfortable with the practice of purchasing goods without seeing them visually and need time to explore the capabilities of their devices, even for something as basic as toilet paper.
How should you respond?
The exciting thing about this trend is that it’s only a matter of time before that breakthrough happens. Google and Amazon will invest significantly in education to get consumers comfortable with the idea of purchasing items with just a simple voice command. We expect that this is probably 18 – 36 months away, but that’s not to say that you should ignore voice until then. You should start preparing for it now, just don’t expect your investment to deliver a return in the short-term.
Brands who are currently investing in voice are participating in a fast-moving land grab to provide practical and interesting customer conversational experiences. Whilst the immediate advantage may be a flashy trade press headline or two; these brands are gaining valuable hands-on experience with voice, which will pay off when competition heats up in the near future.
A common starting point for most brands is to address the most popular FAQs received by their call centres. It’s a great low-risk approach to understand where you can best provide practical value to your customers and introduce the new technology into your organisation. Begin your thinking with your end user in mind, asking ‘how can we best enhance our customer’s experience through voice?’
Start simple. Take your time. Invest in building a framework for your brand’s future voice.
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We The People is a creative content + social studio that helps brands become great storytellers. We partner with brands to deliver a range of creative and strategic services to help them better engage with people.