Holiday gift giving spikes Canadian smart speaker penetration to 19 per cent

Smart speaker penetration has spiked to 19 per cent, driven by holiday gift giving, according to a recent survey by Audience Insights.

There were a lot of Google Home Minis and Amazon Echo Dots under the tree in December, according to a recent survey from Audience Insights Inc.

The email survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,512 Canadians, collected between Jan. 21-22, found that low-price points for smaller smart speakers drove gift giving over the 2018 holiday season.

In a little over a year, smart speaker penetration in Canada has gone from four per cent to 19 per cent, meaning nearly one-in-five Canadian households now have a smart speaker. 

Unlike the U.S., Google was first-to-market in Canada and maintains a solid lead over Alexa, while the Apple HomePod has yet to make an impact, despite 31 per cent of Canadian adults using an iPhone as their primary mobile device. The survey indicates Google-brand speakers were, by far, the most commonly-received smart speaker gift. Low price points for smaller smart speakers clearly spurred gift-giving with the survey finding that the mini options were three times as likely to be received as a gift.

While most smart speaker owners only have a single speaker in their home, more than a third now have more than one. More than one-in-10 households have three or more.

With 19 per cent of Canadian adults currently owning a smart speaker, just two per cent say they are “very” likely to buy one in the next six months. Another 17 per cent are only “somewhat” likely to buy one. According to Audience Insights, the findings indicate smart speaker penetration can be expected to stay under one-third of all Canadian adults in the immediate future.

Audience Insights suggests one factor holding the market back is privacy concerns. The Fall 2018 Radio on the Move study asked Canadians how concerned they were about privacy with regards to smart speakers. Four-in-10 non-owners (about 40 per cent) said they were unlikely to buy a smart speaker in the next six months, indicating they would have serious concerns about their privacy having a smart speaker in the home.

As far as how Canadians are using smart speakers, two-thirds of owners (66 per cent) reported using their speaker for streaming music services in the past week, with nearly half (46 per cent) listening to AM/FM radio during the same period. Podcast listening was lower at 19 per cent. Download the summary report here.