An Experian study from 2016 sheds light on how people use Amazon Echo in the home. Survey data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) is more heavily cited and also very useful, but the Experian data is much more in depth and merits study. Whereas the CIRP data only reveals consumer usage in four categories, Experian catalogs 18 unique use cases.
Tiers of Amazon Alexa Skill Usage
The data represents what people have done at least one time with their Amazon Echo. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell us much about frequency of use, but it does shed light on what people think might be important and useful compared to use cases which are more niche. The data also naturally cluster in six tiers: 80s, 60s, 40s, 30s, teens and rare. “Set timer” and “play song” top the list and make up the 80s tier. One is a functional tool the other audio consumption — in this case entertainment. The 60s tier includes “read news,” “set alarm,” “check the time” and “tell a joke.” In this case we have two more use cases that are functional tools and two that are audio consumption. So, the top six use cases that people have tried split evenly between functional tools and audio consumption of entertainment or information.
It isn’t until we get to the 40s tier that we first see a home automation use case, “control lights.” We also see the first productivity task in terms of “add to shopping list.” “Connecting to a music service” is a more advanced form of playing music and fits nicely in that audio consumption category. Half of the use cases have been tried by more than 40% of Amazon Echo owners. There are also nine task categories that were tried by 3.5% to 36.5% of users.
How People Use Amazon Echo According to CIRP
So, how does this compare to CIRP Data. CIRP calls out three distinct categories, “information,” “audio speaker” and “control.” We can assume that “information” includes items that Experian categorizes as “Read News,” “Check the Time,” “Provide Traffic” and similar tasks. These types of features were used by other 60% of users while “audio speaker” was used by over half of Echo owners. This would seem to line up with the “Play Music” and “Tell a Joke” entertainment categories used by Experian.
Are these findings in conflict? Not really. The Experian question asked what was used once whereas the CIRP inquiry sought to discover common usage. It is easy to assume that many people have tried listening to music on Alexa but only about half use it for music regularly. Voicebot reads the CIRP data as more aligned with frequency of use. A Geekwire article quoted CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz as saying:
More Echo owners use it as an information source than as a voice-controlled music device.
That seems reasonable especially when you consider frequency of use. You may ask Alexa for the weather, to set a timer and how to spell a word in rapid succession and even make these requests multiple times per day. By contrast, you may only start the music player once and let it run. The CIRP data in this way makes a valuable contribution to the corpus of Amazon Alexa user data as does the depth of insight offered by the Experian survey. The Voicebot team is looking forward to future surveys from these and other organizations.