Amazon Echo: Changing Purchase Behavior on Amazon (and Beyond)

According to Amazon itself, tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices were sold during the 2017 holiday shopping season. All Echo products were flying off Amazon’s virtual shelves, while the Echo Dot was the best-selling product across all categories on Amazon.

Since its launch in 2015, voice-controlled Amazon Echo smart speakers have been taking care of countless on-demand tasks for users – playing music, controlling smart devices, providing real-time information, making calls, sending and receiving messages, setting alarms, making lists, and more.

But these features alone don’t set Amazon apart—especially in a world where Google and Apple are major players. Where Echo does stand out from the crowd is through its rich connection with the user’s Amazon account, including the ability to shop across the world’s largest marketplace by voice. While multitasking and remaining hands-free, users can find a product and complete a transaction. The question is, does Echo’s ease-of-use change purchase behavior on Amazon?

InfoScout analyzed Amazon purchase data related to Echo in collaboration with our friends from Alpine.AI, who specialize in connecting businesses with consumers by creating compelling voice commerce experiences on Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and other major voice platforms.

Using InfoScout panel data gathered through our proprietary mobile apps, as well as InfoScout custom surveys, we’ve identified:

  • Who Echo owners and buyers are (yes, they’re different)
  • How Echo influences shopping behavior
  • What categories have been affected thus far by the Echo revolution

Who is the Amazon Echo Buyer?

According to InfoScout Insights, 9% of U.S. households have purchased an Amazon Echo since June 2015. Echo buyers are older than typical Amazon buyers and tend to skew male, high-income, and Caucasian.

While it is still early, only one-third claim to have personally voice-purchased something on Amazon via the Echo, according to an InfoScout custom survey of Echo owners — but this number was close to zero just a year earlier.

Echo Buyers vs. Echo Owners

InfoScout survey data tells us one in four Amazon Echos were purchased as gifts, and Echo buyers are often older than Echo users. In fact, 15% of Echo users are under the age of 25, but just 3% of Echo buyers are in this age group. Similarly, Echo users who shop via the Echo tend to be much younger than the average Echo buyer. Millennials lead the way, followed by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

The Correlation Between Echo Usage and Amazon Purchase Behavior

On average, spend per household on CPG products has increased among all Amazon households over the past year, but among Echo buyers, that increase is even more dramatic. After purchasing an Echo, CPG spending on Amazon increased 29% for Echo buyers, compared to 19% for all Amazon shoppers.

The increased CPG spending is driven by slightly smaller, but more frequent purchases. Echo buyers spent $1 less per checkout after buying an Echo, but they made about seven more purchases over the course of the year.

Drilling down further, shoppers with voice assistant devices purchase CPG products nearly two times as often when compared to all Amazon shoppers. Health & Beauty is the leading category in this trend, as Echo owners purchased Health & Beauty products 53% more often than all Amazon shoppers in a 12-month period.

Which categories are feeling the love through Amazon Echo?

Currently, Pet Food & Treats are certainly outpacing other categories, and Baking & Cooking and Shaving & Grooming also experienced significant growth among Echo buyers – even exceeding the already extraordinary growth among total Amazon shoppers. On the other other end of the spectrum, Grocery and Mass Merchants (e.g., Walmart and Target brick-and-mortar stores) both saw a 1.5% dip in spending among Echo buyers relative to all Amazon shoppers.

Purchasing is the final step in the path-to-purchase.

These findings alone are dramatic: consumers who own Voice-first devices (like Amazon Echo) are changing their purchasing behavior. The Amazon Echo is causing consumers to shop differently.

We focused on hard sales numbers to really inform our opinion, and imagine if we broaden our surveying to higher up the funnel, the results would be even more clear.

Millions of consumers are now comfortable asking Alexa for shopping help, and this is affecting the Consideration, Intent and Decisions phases of the path-to-purchase, in addition to the final transaction.

For example, a consumer sees a commercial for dog food tailored for puppies, and can immediately ask “Alexa, what is the best food for a golden retriever puppy” and start the buying process.

“To be clear, voice commerce is not 20%+ of digital commerce for brands and retailers… yet. But, a path-to-purchase where consumers are using smart assistants to make commerce decisions is here,” says Adam Marchick, CEO of Alpine.AI.

So what can we expect?

“We can expect the trend of voice purchasing to continue up and to the right. Google understands the importance of streamlining the voice-enabled path-to-purchase, similar to what Amazon is doing, and elegant user experiences will emerge on both platforms. That’s 450 million devices today, going to over one billion by the end of this year,” says Marchick. “Voice commerce is something every brand and retailer should watch, but the voice-enabled path-to-purchase is something every brand and retailer should be building for now.”

Key Takeaways
Purchase data suggests the ease and convenience of voice-ordering via Amazon Echo is leading these shoppers to spend more on Amazon. But what does this mean for manufacturers and non-Amazon retailers?

  • Because there is no physical shelf or interface to use when shopping via Echo, manufacturers need to ensure their brands are habitual and top-of-mind.
  • Echo is not the only way to make Amazon shopping more convenient. Amazon Dash Buttons, which are Wi-Fi devices that enable users to order and reorder products with the push of a button, may be another avenue worth exploring.
  • How can retailers make shopping more convenient? Are Dash-like buttons a possibility? Is click-and- collect a viable alternative for Prime Now in the “immediate need” space?
  • Being found and helpful on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant will become increasingly more important for brands and retailers.

Want to learn more about how Amazon Echo is affecting your category? Get access to InfoScout’s full Amazon Echo analysis here.

Want to benefit from voice-enabled commerce? Get started with Alpine.AI at info@alpine.ai.