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9 Things That Millennials Are Buying Through Their Smart Speakers

Millennial smart speaker owners are a quickly growing group, and they’re already spending billions a year through the device…

Smart speaker sales exploded in 2018. According to a survey by NPR and Edison Research, covered by Recode, smart speaker ownership grew 78% last year, with an estimated 119 million in circulation in the U.S.—and the holidays may have helped to fuel the growth. We found that among 18-36-year-olds alone, one in ten received a smart speaker as a gift this past holiday season. In fact, our own new trend Speaker Culture, which delves into young consumers’ smart speaker interest, ownership, and behaviors, reported that the percentage of young consumers who own smart speakers rose from 27% in 2018 to 33% this year.

Over half of Millennial smart speaker owners tell us that they would connect a payment method to their smart speaker to they could buy things through it instantly—but they’re already spending through them. Our data shows that the majority of young smart speaker owners are making purchases through their smart speakers, and they estimate that they’re spending over $150 on average monthly. That means they could potentially spend over $13 billion a year through their speakers. Amazon recently stopped selling their physical Dash buttons, reporting that sales through smart assistant Alexa have gotten popular enough that they’ve rendered the IRL buttons unnecessary.

The growing world of smart speaker commerce is clearly a major opportunity for brands, but the development of branded apps for the device is still a bit of a wild west. So what are they buying through their smart speakers now? We asked Millennial owners what they’ve spent money on through their speakers*—and these are their top nine answers:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of items that young consumers are buying through their smart speakers—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The lists are ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

What Have They Purchased Through Their Smart Speakers?

18-36-year-olds

  1. Music
  2. Clothes
  3. Lyft / Uber / Taxi
  4. Food delivery / Groceries
  5. Amazon purchases
  6. Household items
  7. Games
  8. Movies
  9. Audiobooks / Books

Music is the top thing that young consumers are buying through their smart speakers. We weren’t too surprised by this, considering the fact that controlling music is the top thing that young smart speaker owners are doing with these devices—they are, after all, speakers. But the next items on the ranking are perhaps more surprising. Clothing comes in at number two on their list, and a report by OC&C Strategy Consultants also found that clothing is a top category of purchase through the device. If you can’t imagine how one would buy clothing by voice, just remember that at one point online shopping for clothing was considered a reach.

Tactical, useful items like rides, groceries, and household items rank high on the list, but entertainment like games, movies, and audiobooks are also common. This is likely only the beginning of the kind of spending that young consumers will be doing through this type of device. Our Speaker Culture trend also found that 85% of Millennial smart speaker owners think brands should create commands that work with smart speakers, and 87% say they would use branded apps through their smart speaker. In other words, brands should be finding ways to integrate themselves into the platform in an innovative and useful way.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.