How digital roommates are changing our lives
Through voice interaction, smart speakers change the way we find, analyze, evaluate and then decide on products and services available on the Internet. Smart speaker create a new "gatekeeper" between consumers, retailers and manufacturers, with the potential to change our search, comparison and purchasing behavior in the long term.
The exact role these new gatekeepers will play and how they will change the information seeking and communication behavior – and thus the power structure – between customers, retailers and manufacturers is not yet clear. But it is already clear that the voice assistants do have an influence on the purchase decision process among those who use them and that all market participants have to deal with these changes.
Currently, the discussion on these issues is highly polarized – on the one hand by the optimism of those who are so deeply involved in the development of the new technology that they may lack distance. On the other hand, by those who have not yet had their own experience with the new technology and run the risk of declaring their own skepticism the general truth.
We have decided to give voice assistants’ early adopters a chance to share their experiences in order to understand how the new technology has already changed their consumption and shopping habits. Of course, it is by no means certain that future smart speaker users will behave in the same way as current users. But the study of early adopters is a good way to move from the abstract level of technology and concepts to the concrete level of behavioral changes, desires and expectations of consumers. The result is a very differentiated picture: "the" typical smart speaker user does not exist, but there are user types with different profiles and preferences. And for all users there are insights into their preferences and experiences in dealing with the new digital roommate, which are important to understand for manufacturers and retailers in order to prepare for the future.