Over the past year, smart speakers have become one of the biggest consumer electronics trends. These digital assistants have quickly transformed into a crucial part of the ‘Internet of Things’ and are considered a tipping point for home automation.
Some commentators argue when it comes to technology adoption, talking assistants are outperforming the uptake seen for smartphones and tablets. In fact, research suggests one-in-six Americans and one-in-ten Brits own a smart speaker.
What about in Australia? Unlike the US & UK, Australia is still relatively new to digital assistants. What does demand look like? Who are the consumers driving this?
Smart Speaker Demand
Looking at the past year shows demand for smart speakers peaked in September – December 2017 with almost 255k people searching for these products, a two-fold increase compared to May – August 2017. Hitwise can help you size the opportunity of a product to support merchandising teams in the decision making process, for example, the Google Home assistant.
Source: Hitwise AV – Unique Users searching for top smart speaker brands Jan 2017 – April 2018
Google Home Spotlight
In 2017, Google took first-mover advantage in the Australian market and launched two-digital assistants. Despite a tactical launch of the smaller, cheaper Google Home Mini in October, the Google Home attracted more consumer search interest after its release than the Google Home Mini did. However, this two-part launch paid off as there was real momentum in the run up to Christmas, and a clear spike in ‘Google Home’ searches the week of Boxing Day sales.
Source: Hitwise CI – 52 weeks ending 28th April 2018
Google Home Launch
In the month after Google Home’s launch, ‘Google Home review’, ‘What is Google Home’ and ‘How does Google Home work?’ all ranked in the top ten most successful search terms. As a result, three gadget review sites; CNET, Lifehacker and Gizmodo received 13% of the search traffic accumulatively, placing them in the top ten sites getting traffic from ‘Google Home’ searches. With the release of any tech product, ‘early adopters’ are always keen to be the first to get their hands on hot new products with review sites playing a key role. E-commerce sites Google Store and JB Hi-Fi were also among the top sites visited from ‘Google Home’ searches, making up a 29% share.
Google Home Mini Launch
In the month after the Mini’s launch, ‘Google Home Mini’ was the top term searched by consumers and made up 32% of all ‘Google Home’ searches. Google Store and JB Hi-Fi remained in the top spot for visits, but The Good Guys (+2.35%) and Harvey Norman (+2.07%) saw the biggest increases in share of ‘Google Home’ searches since the previous launch.
Boxing Day Sales Peak
In the month leading up to the Boxing Day peak, the top ten retailer websites received 41% share of ‘Google Home’ searches – a jump of 6% versus the Mini launch period.
Trending a new product’s performance over time will enable you to clearly understand how consumer search behaviour is changing so you can adapt your search strategy to maximise on the products or features that are most resonating with consumers. Additionally, as the product lifecycle evolves retailers can establish which sites to advertise with and at what time. For example, in the early adopter phase identify the review and news sites getting the greatest traction to keep your brand front of mind.
Google dominated the smart speaker space in 2017, but 2018 is proving more competitive after ‘Amazon Echo’ and ‘Apple HomePod’ both entered the market earlier this year. Below you can see how consumers are evaluating all three brands, highlighting how the audiences searching for each brand overlaps .
Source: Hitwise AV – 31st December 2017 – 28th April 2018
Google Home dominated with 179,875 Australians searching for this product over the past four months, followed by 39,561 searches for the Amazon Echo and 16,440 for the Apple HomePod. 23% of people who searched for Google Home also searched for the Amazon Echo and 27% the Apple Home Pod, but the overlap between the Echo and the HomePod was minimal. As Amazon.com.au’s penetration of the market grows it will be interesting to see what impact these rising players will have on the performance of Google Home.
Source: Hitwise AV – 27th August 2017 – 23rd December 2017
By bucketing different types of search queries for smart speakers and then analysing this behaviour by age, we can identify key audiences along different phases of the funnel:
• Research phase — Those looking for reviews or side-by-side product comparisons
• High purchase intent— Those searching for terms that include words like buy, price, deal
• Post-purchase – Those searching for ‘how to’ use information.
25-34 year olds ranked highest for all three types of search, with the highest number of people showing intent to buy. They also had the highest need for ‘how to’ information, suggesting those who have purchased are seeking guidance on their new device. However, 55-64 year olds ranked second for purchase intent, highlighting new tech is not just for Millennials. 18-24 year olds showed they were most interested in reviewing and comparing these products, suggesting the youngest age group is driven to seek the opinions of experts before purchase.
How to Gain the Competitive Edge for Products
Through Hitwise product tracker, we can identify which products are performing well on a partner or competitor site. In this example, we see the top ten ‘Google Home’ product URL’s on Harvey Norman, ranked by their total page views. We see the original Google Home speaker was most viewed over this period, followed by the Google Home Mini Chalk colour, which far outperformed the charcoal version. This kind of data can help Google and resellers with merchandising strategy as well as evaluating product demand across different retail sites.
Source: Hitwise Retail Analytics – 150 days ending 30th December 2017
Although Google Home retains its market lead for now, competitors will continue to emerge and evolve. As more Australian homes become smart homes, it will be increasingly important for brands to keep a close eye on consumer demand.