US Insights

Google's Smart Speakers Top Amazon as Gift of Choice

Kristen Ball

Business Graduate

Brands 02.04.2019 / 15:00

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Kantar research finds Google closing the gap on Amazon.

Editors Note: This article was co-authored by Amanda Aronson

Buyers of Google’s suite of smart speaker products are buying more of them for friends and family, and they’re doing so at a greater rate than those with Amazon devices.

A recent study conducted by Lightspeed found that nearly 40% of smart speaker owners received their devices as a gift. That represents a sizeable jump from the third quarter of 2018, when Kantar Worldpanel found that only 27% of owners had received a smart speaker as a gift.

The Lightspeed study also revealed that smart speaker owners are keen on sharing the wealth, with roughly 30% of US owners giving a smart speaker as a gift this past holiday season. Google’s push to gain market share throughout 2018 seems to have paid off nicely, with 36% of smart speaker owners purchasing Google products as a gift in comparison to the 27% who chose to gift an Amazon speaker.

While ownership rates continue to rise, brands still face a considerable challenge in reaching a consumer market that is only using smart speakers to perform a limited range of tasks. Lightspeed asked consumers what features on their smart speakers they’d be likely to try within the first six months of 2019. The top responses were what most would expect – streaming music, checking weather and asking for answers to questions.

Related: Amazon & Google's Smart Speaker Gold Rush Is Only Getting Started

This behavior makes sense given the frustrations commonly identified by users. Lightspeed found that 31% of consumers blamed the devices’ lack of user-friendliness for the product not meeting their expectations, thereby limiting the features consumers would be willing to try. Consumers also reported disappointment with how easily their devices get confused (30%) and how they frequently cannot answer questions correctly (19%). This pattern was observed across all smart speaker brands.

Some consumers were expecting to spend less time on their phone with a purchase of a smart speaker, according to Edison Research. Nearly 45% of early adopters said they bought their smart speaker device to reduce overall screen time.

However, more recent models of smart speakers are equipped with a tablet-like screen. Lightspeed found that 15% of people who own one smart speaker and 34% of people who own multiple smart speakers have a smart display. Smart speakers may be keeping people off their phones, but screen exposure will most likely remain unaffected.

With huge strides being made and plenty of room to grow, the smart speaker industry has a lot of promise. Research from Deloitte predicts total industry revenues will rise 63% to reach $7 billion in 2019, compared to $4.3 billion in 2018.

Kantar Worldpanel data collected in the fall of 2018 also revealed that Amazon devices dominated with 74% share of the US market. Google Home devices came in second with 15% market share. With Google’s big win during the gift giving season, it will be interesting to watch the battle for market share continue throughout the year, and Kantar Worldpanel will monitor this with a second wave of data collection in April. 

So, what is the key to winning the smart speaker race? According to Kantar TNS Touchpoints research, success in this industry is heavily dependent on creating the best product experiences. For some brands, this could mean perfecting current capabilities to minimize dissatisfaction. The areas of disappointment identified by smart speaker users are few, but significant, meaning a few tweaks could have a meaningful impact on product experiences. For other brands, this could mean expanding upon the number of features consumers are consistently using to maximize areas of satisfaction. Canalys is predicting the US smart assistant-compatible device base will reach 1.6 billion by 2022. Maybe the winner of this race will need to develop more efficiencies to create the best smarthome experience.

Source: Kantar, Kantar Worldpanel, Lightspeed

Editor's Notes

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