62% of Brits would be happy to use voice commands to control devices

August 7, 2017

From Siri to Alexa, many Brits are on first name terms with their digital assistants and it seems that the nation’s reliance on them is set to grow. Mintel’s Digital Trends UK 2017 Report finds that 62% of Brits say they are using or would be happy to use voice commands to control technology devices in the future, with 16% actually having done so in one way or another in the past three months*.

For now, it seems that many will treat the relationships they have with their voice assistants as a private affair. Over half (56%) of Brits say they’d be happy to use voice commands to control technology devices in their home and 47% would happy to do so in their own car or vehicle. On the other hand, it seems that the nation isn’t yet as comfortable with embracing voice control in public, with just one in four (25%) saying they’d be happy to use voice commands anywhere other than their home or vehicle, such as at work, while shopping or in the gym.

Of those who are or would be happy to use voice commands to control technology devices, half (49%) say they would be most likely to use voice commands to play or control music, while 41% would use it to make phone or video calls. Meanwhile, two in five (40%) would use the devices to ask for general information, such as recipes or conversion rates, and the same proportion (40%) to hear the news or weather. Falling further down the list, 31% would use voice command to control household devices such as the TV and lights and 9% would use it to hear their bank balance and recent transactions.

Matt King, Category Director, Technology and Media Research at Mintel, said:

“Home comfort is key to voice control acceptance. Most voice command device interactions are still likely to be through smartphones, given the infancy of the connected speaker market, but home-based devices will become much more central to the voice control market as it evolves. As ownership of these devices increases and more products like TVs come with voice control built in, people are likely to look to explore its capabilities beyond basic tasks. There will be some aspects of the connected home that will be seen as lower-risk, such as controlling lights, and we can expect to see people expand their repertoires of connected home device use gradually, moving up through different levels of complexity or commitment.”

While Brits’ use of voice controlled devices is just beginning, it seems ownership of smartphones has reached new heights. Indeed, smartphones have now reached their highest ownership levels since Mintel began tracking the market. Today, as many as 83% of UK consumers own a smartphone, up from 54% who said the same in April 2012.

Furthermore, consumers are more likely to own a smartphone than live in a household with a laptop computer. While 82% of Brits say they have a laptop computer in their household, 83% say they personally own a smartphone. In comparison, a year earlier 84% lived in a household with a laptop yet 82% owned a smartphone. It seems that older generations are still reluctant to embrace smartphone technology, however. While 93% of Brits aged 18-34 own a smartphone, just 64% aged 55 or over are smartphone owners.

“While the smartphone market has generally plateaued at around 80% from late 2015 to early 2017, we have seen ownership edge up in recent months. There is clearly headroom left to grow the appeal of these devices among older consumers, particularly as they are among the most price-sensitive shoppers in this market. The evolution of smartphone technology means that entry-level handsets are becoming more affordable, but even higher-end manufacturers appear to be actively catering more to price-sensitive non-owners.” Matt adds

Finally, Mintel research reveals that reading news from paid online sources has reached its highest level to date, hitting 23% in the three months to April 2017, up from 20% for the three months to December 2015.

“Reliability of news has been one of the hottest topics over the last couple of years, with the social media-driven rise in ‘fake news’ creating a need for trustworthy media sources to provide guidance on what’s real and what isn’t. Major political events have provided publishers with good platforms on which to position themselves as reliable and authoritative news sources.” Matt concludes.

*Three months to April 2017


Press review copies of Mintel’s Digital Trends UK 2017 report and interviews with Matt King, Category Director, Technology and Media Research at Mintel, are available on request from the press office.


Susanna Capecchi
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