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Since Amazon Echo burst onto the scene in September last year, much has been written about the potential for voice activated smart devices (including by us!) At a recent Media Research Group Members’ Evening we heard a fascinating presentation on this topic from Radioplayer and Radiocentre which explored the current market for these devices as well as how it will develop in future. Here are just a few of the key takeaways from their brilliant presentation, based on their joint research report Getting Vocal:

The current state of play

Despite being on the market for less than a year, the research showed that a staggering 9% of UK households already have one or more Echo device. Ownership is higher among men, those aged 25 – 44 and those based in London and the South East.

The Echo quickly becomes part of owners’ daily lives, with 81% of Echo users using it once a day or more. What’s more, the customer experience is overwhelmingly positive: 89% of owners in the study said they either like or love the Echo.

Using the Echo is a shared experience. Devices are used by the whole family and in single-device households, they tend to be located in shared spaces such as the living room, kitchen or dining room, where anyone from kids to friends can access the Echo.

As audio entertainment was found to be one of the key purchase drivers for the Echo, it’s no surprise that the device encourages more listening of radio and music streaming services. 71% of Echo owners say that they listen to the radio more and 73% say that they listen to music streaming services more frequently – a phenomenon that’s creating new opportunities for advertisers.

The future of the market

The research indicates that the future for Echo and other voice-controlled smart devices is bright: almost 4 in 10 adults say they are likely to purchase an Echo device in future, with 87% saying they will do so in the next 12 months. This indicates that adoption of voice activated smart devices could hit the mainstream more quickly than many had anticipated.

Radioplayer predicts that in future, devices like Echo will spread throughout the home, from shared spaces into the bedroom. Why? Because the manufacturers themselves are leading this trend. Amazon’s latest device, The Echo Look, is designed for the bedroom, with an in-built camera that allows you to take pictures and videos of your outfit and get intelligent fashion recommendations through its Style Check tool. Radioplayer and Radiocentre also predict that devices will spread to the car, with 81% of respondents saying they would put Alexa in their vehicle.

And of course, the devices themselves with also get more sophisticated in the coming months and years. Google’s equivalent of Echo, Google Home, is now able to distinguish between voices, meaning that it can offer personalised assistance to different users.

This is certainly a fascinating market to watch and one which will evolve at speed in the coming years. To read more of the research and understand the current state of play, head to the Radiocentre website.