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Ellen Hammett 

Brits sceptical of voice assistant technology

Brits sceptical of voice assistant technology

Amazon Echo and Google Home

Fears over data protection and questions over the technology’s purpose and relevance are preventing UK consumers from adopting voice assistants, according to new research from the7stars.

Less than a third (29%) of Brits say they would like to own a device such as Google Home or Amazon Echo in future, with 61% of respondents saying they are reluctant to hand these companies more data than they currently hold.

However, 81% of consumers said they would be willing to share an item of personal data in return for free, discounted or enhanced services.

The survey also found that a large proportion (43%) of consumers are concerned that voice assistants can be used to listen in on conversations, with the figure rising to 49% among Londoners.

It also underlined that consumers are not clear on the purpose and potential of the technology, with 40% of consumers yet to understand the benefits, 50% not thinking it is of use, and 42% labelling it “a gimmick”.

While younger audiences are also sceptical, with 41% of 18 to 34-year-olds agreeing that the technology is a gimmick, this age group is more understanding of the benefits (49%) and more likely to want to own a voice assistant device (36%) compared with those in older age groups.

Appetite is strongest among those earning £41,000 or more, who are nearly twice as likely (47%) to want to own one than those earning less (27%).

The most enthusiastic about voice assistants are 18-34 men who are more likely than women of the same demographic to think they are a positive step for society (43% v 38%), want to own one (45% v 29%), and feel they are of use (46% v 28%).

“Voice assistants present a fresh opportunity for brands to connect with consumers, and there’s exciting potential for this technology as a platform for advertisers," said the7stars' Frances Revel.

"However, the research shows that mainstream scepticism remains over their value and how they are using consumer data, so there is work to be done to break down these barriers for this exciting new technology.”

Despite the concerns, separate research from Radiocentre shows that over 9% of UK households owned one or more Amazon Echo devices when it launched in Autumn 2016, while claimed intent to purchase suggests household penetration of voice-controlled smart devices could hit 40% by early 2018.

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