LONDON: About a quarter (26%) of UK consumers say they have used voice assistant (VA) technology, such as Apple’s Siri or Amazon Echo’s Alexa, but security is among a number of concerns deterring others from embracing the trend.

According to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), security is an issue for a quarter of the 1,001 people aged 16+ that the trade body polled in August 2017.

Working with the Foresight Factory, a consumer trends consultancy, and behavioural research agency Watch Me Think, the IPA also found that about a third (29%) of consumers are put off the technology by having to speak out loud to the machines, and women (33%) feel this more strongly than men (25%).

Overall, more than half of those questioned (54%) say they have not used VA technology and are not interested in doing so in the future, mainly because they don’t see how they can benefit from it.

This sentiment is particularly pronounced among non-interested AB social grades, two-thirds (63%) of whom report not seeing any benefit. Conversely, people in social grades DE are more likely to be worried about the technology’s ability to understand them (17%).

Another handicap to speedy adoption is the finding that almost 60% of all respondents agree with the statement, “I would be concerned about how my voice print would be used by companies”.

However, among users of VA technology, 38% agree that “voice prints are as secure as other forms of biometric identification (e.g. fingerprints, eye-scanning)”.

Entertainment is what interests users the most (75%), followed by the ability to control home appliances (65%), booking services (56%) and ordering groceries (42%).

Meanwhile, more than half (52%) of users have opted for Apple’s Siri, while other popular devices are Google Assistant (32%), Amazon’s Alexa (27%) and Microsoft’s Cortana (27%).

Commenting on the findings, Nigel Gwilliam, Consultant Head of Media and Emerging Tech at the IPA, said: “This research reveals a fascinating, benchmark as to where consumers’ heads are with voice assistant technology.

“The more optimistic predictions are that as soon as 2018, 30% of our interactions with technology will be ‘conversations’ with smart machines. A year after this figure was published – and in light of these latest IPA findings – it feels a little high a little soon.

“It’ll be interesting to chart how consumer sentiment and usage changes over the coming years and how brands lead, follow or adapt to this.”

Sourced from IPA; additional content by WARC staff