Dec 18th, 2017

“Speak Easy” Global Research from WPP Agencies J. Walter Thompson, Kantar and Mindshare Unveils the Rise of Voice-Activated Technology around the World

Nov 27, 2017 - Voice-activated technology is transforming our lives in the Digital Age, driven by a desire for faster and more efficient ways to access information. A global research from WPP agencies J. Walter Thompson, Kantar and Mindshare unveils that consumers in Asia’s fast-paced economy are leading the way in the adoption. “Voice is more expressive than touching or typing,” and the results from “Speak Easy”, a survey among 6,780 people in the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Thailand, Japan, Australia, China and Singapore reveals that nearly half of global smartphone users will use voice technology by 2020 and 47% will use voice technology at least once a month. Ovum, a market-leading research and consulting firm, forecasts that globally, the native digital assistant installed base is set to exceed 7.5 billion active devices by 2021, which is more than the global population.

Arpapat Boonrod, CEO of Kantar Insights Thailand, said, “Voice is the intuitive form of communication. Voice technology makes communication more natural, and in the future, people will interact more deeply with voice technology. They also want voice technology as a buddy without having to make commands all the time. Meanwhile, voice buddy helps keep certain things a secret and ensures that your personal information won’t be leaked.”

“Speak Easy” Global Research from WPP Agencies J. Walter Thompson, Kantar and Mindshare Unveils the Rise of Voice-Activated Technology around the World

1. Voice Matters To Me
- 59% of Thais use voice technology because of convenience
- 48% say it’s much faster than typing
- 28% say it allows them to multitask
- 57% say it fits their lives seamlessly
- 21% say it’s the future
- 40% say it’s cool and 34% say it’s fun

2. Voice Is My New Buddy
- Top three activities in Thailand are online search at 56%, ask for directions at 46% and asking questions at 37%. Interestingly, 40% of Thais want to use voice command to check travel information, compared to only 10% across APAC. Meanwhile, in China, people use it to check weather forecasts, whereas in Japan they use it to add a note or reminder, and in Singapore they look up measurement or currency conversion. 
- Situations in which voice technology is preferred are while driving at 41%, while in a rush at 37%, to save time and for fun at 36%, and when the users don’t know how to spell the words at 33%.
- Top five situations in which voice technology is used are while at home, while driving, while in bed, while watching TV and while working out. 

3. Voice is My New Love
- Users are in love with voice technology and feel that it is not just a machine. 77% want voice technology to have more personality, and 68% say they want to feel like they are talking to a real human when talking to their voice assistant. 
- 39% say that they had a sexual fantasy about their voice assistant.

4. Privacy is Precious
- Most people prefer to use voice-activated technology when they are alone in their private space, such as at home, in a restroom, or when taking a bath.
- 59% are concerned about state agencies listening to the conversation with their voice assistant.
- 63% are worried about companies listening to the conversation with their voice assistant.
- 48% need an assurance about confidentiality of the conversation. 
- 44% prefer to use voice technology at home when they are alone.  

5. Fearful Excitement for the Future
- 87% of Thai smartphone users say voice makes them more efficient and organize their lives better.
- 80% purchase a product or service after having browsed for it elsewhere. 
- 70% reorder a previously purchased item. 
- 60% use the technology to find information on products they are interested in.
- 47% of Thais like to ask fun questions.

Despite the growing number of users who use voice-activated technology, there are still obstacles. 42% of users don’t think voice will work well. 57% want the voice assistant to fit into their life seamlessly. 50% expect voice technology to communicate well with all of their other technology.
 
6. Voice Is the Innovation
The results show that most users want voice-activated technology to become a tangible part of their everyday lives. 
- 74% use it to control the technology in their hotel room.
- 72% use it to communicate with stores.
- 68% use it to take orders at restaurant rather than ordering with a waiter.  

Additionally, the results also show that people hope voice-activated technology will help them manage their lives better. Their voice assistant will anticipate what they need and take actions or make suggestions. 45% of Thais want voice technology to use what it knows about them to understand what they are asking and give better answer. 48% believe that voice-activated technology will make people smarter. On the contrary, it can cause laziness, lack of concentration and intolerance to silence. 

Pratchawan Ketawan, Strategic Planning Director of J. Walter Thompson Thailand, said, “Right now, Voice-activated technology in Thailand is still not widespread and not as popular as in other countries. Interestingly, Thai people are accepting and have a positive perception on this. They can also imagine how this technology can be fun and efficient, allowing them to manage their lives more conveniently. Today, brand communication is not only through contact, but also through voice. Voice can help consumers feel closer to the brand or the voice. It is an instinctive form of communication, and it is instant. Therefore, user experience with voice-activated technology has a deeper impact and is more special.”

“Voice” as the turning point for businesses  

Working with the neuroscience market research firm, Neuro-Insight, the WPP agencies investigated the brain’s responses to voice, compared with touch or typing and found that voice interactions showed consistently lower levels of brain activity than their touch equivalent, indicating voice response is less taxing than its screen-based equivalent. At the same time the study found that when people asked a question involving a brand name, their brain activity showed a significantly stronger emotional response compared to people typing that same brand question. So the act of saying a brand name appears to strengthen the pre-existing emotional associations to a greater degree than typing it. 

The ease of voice interaction is also key, especially in countries with a character-based language. Indeed, we found that 51% of regular voice users in China and 57% in Japan use voice because it means they don’t have to type.

Trends show that voice-activation and user experience for voice-activation will result in the following;

1. Ease the Cognitive Load
- Voice is the oldest form of human communication. It is the most innate and intuitive way for us to communicate.   
- Brands can make use of this opportunity to present voice experience to consumers, creating a seamless conversation between consumers and brand/product. For instance, voice assistant can do certain service tasks, such as ordering coffee, getting a taxi, ordering cleaning, or recommending drinks.  

2. Digital Butler
- Digital butler can be versatile – it can even anticipate things that have not yet arrived. For instance, when ordering pizza, through voice shopping, users can choose to order instantly, place items in basket, repeat previous order, or track an order which has been placed.  
- In addition to domestic use, hotels can also make use of voice-activated technology. Voice-activated services are tools which combine artificial intelligence and human intelligence to offer another level of service. 
- In Japan, human-like robots have been created to assist people. The highlight is they are able to recognize human emotions and adjust their actions accordingly.  

3. Craving Intimacy
- The deeper technology understands users, the more they develop emotional connections.  
- Voice-activation offers a more responsive emotion than typing.  
- Brands can get upclose and personal by crafting a unique voice and personality to create intimate brand connections.  

4. Liberation from Screens
- Voice assistants offer new services which facilitate users and liberate them from screens, thereby allowing people to interact more with the world around them. Voice-activation instead of pressing buttons on the steering wheel is one example. They can make commands in Thai, such as to open the sun roof, and turn on or off the air conditioner or navigation. 
- In Thailand, voice assistant is used in biometrics identification because it is more convenient, faster and more secure.  

5. Voice as Part of the Internet of Things (IoT) 
- Brands need to find the suitable touch points between them and their customers, and add voice interactivity to their touch points for connected retail, connected packaging and connected media. Voice can help them reach out to consumers better and therefore brands should make their own physical assets voice enabled. 
- Brands should consider how voice-activation, whether interaction with voice assistant or in-house voice technology, can be maximized. 

Hansa Wongsiripitack, SEA Director of Digital, J. Walter Thompson Thailand, said, “We see a great opportunity for brands to make use of voice-activated technology to create their own brand identity. Inventing and developing new things in this digital transformation era is crucial, but each brand has to find what is right for them. Start small and grow gradually. Today, not many brands are making use of voice technology, so it is a great opportunity for those who do it first. We are confident that voice technology is the future, and it will continue to grow and benefit brands in the long run by truly reaching people.”

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About Mindshare

Mindshare is a global media agency network with billings in excess of US$34.5 billion (source: RECMA). The network consists of more than 7,000 employees, in 116 offices across 86 countries. Each office is dedicated to forging competitive marketing advantage for businesses and their brands based on the values of speed, teamwork and provocation. Mindshare is part of GroupM, which oversees the media investment management sector for WPP. @mindshare

About Kantar
Kantar is one of the world’s leading data, insight and consultancy companies. Working together across the whole spectrum of research and consulting disciplines, its specialist brands, employing 30,000 people, provide inspirational insights and business strategies for clients in 100 countries. Kantar is part of WPP and its services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies. For further information, please visit us at www.kantar.com.
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About J. Walter Thompson London  
J. Walter Thompson London is a communications agency which creates pioneering ideas that build brands and businesses. The agency offers creative expertise across all channels, delivering creative, insight-led and integrated branded content. @JWT_London.

The Innovation Group
The Innovation Group is J. Walter Thompson’s futures, research and innovation unit. It charts emerging and future global trends, consumer change, and innovation patterns—translating these into insight for brands. It offers a suite of consultancy services, including bespoke research, presentations, co-branded reports and workshops. It is also active in innovation, partnering with brands to activate future trends within their framework and execute new products and concepts. 
Follow us on Twitter @JWTIntelligence, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn  

The Innovation Group
The Innovation Group is J. Walter Thompson’s futures, research and innovation unit. It charts emerging and future global trends, consumer change, and innovation patterns—translating these into insight for brands. It offers a suite of consultancy services, including bespoke research, presentations, co-branded reports and workshops. It is also active in innovation, partnering with brands to activate future trends within their framework and execute new products and concepts. 
Follow us on Twitter @JWTIntelligence, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn  

About J. Walter Thompson Intelligence
The Innovation Group is part of J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, a platform for global research, innovation and data analytics at J. Walter Thompson Company, housing three key in-house practices: SONAR™, Analytics and the Innovation Group. SONAR™, J. Walter Thompson’s research unit, develops and exploits new quantitative and qualitative research techniques to understand cultures, brands and consumer motivation around the world. Analytics focuses on the innovative application of data and technology to inform and inspire new marketing solutions. It offers a suite of bespoke analytics tools.  www.jwtintelligence.com

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