Voice search technology changes the way we interact with our devices and find information. Our surveys found that while people originally used voice search more than once a week, that has diminished as the landscape has changed.
By 2020, it was projected that half of searches would be voice searches.
Did that prediction become a reality?
The Manifest surveyed 501 people who use voice search technology in 2018 and found that people rely on voice search to conduct inquiries on a variety of topics.
However, in 2021, The Manifest surveyed a group of 494 people in the U.S. about their voice search habits and found that while consumers still use voice search technology, the frequency has diminished.
- In 2021, only 18% of respondents use voice search more than once a week, compared to 53% in 2018. With nearly 60% citing that they never use voice search technology in 2021, our data suggests that voice search has diminished in popularity.
- In 2018, people were using voice search to find fact-based information such as trivia and term definitions (62%), the weather (46%), and the news (32%).
- People are more likely to use voice search for requesting information (42%), issuing commands (23%), finding products or services (18%), and communicating with others (17%).
- While the use of voice search has diminished, different age groups still use it differently. People older than 55 have never used voice search (63%), while groups between the ages of 35-54 use it more than once a week (27%).
- Younger generations are more likely to use voice search to issue a command (27%), and users over 55 are more likely to use voice search to request information (52%).
People Are Using Voice Search Less
Back in 2018, the popularity of voice search seemed to be growing.
With more than half (53%) of users using voice search at least once a week, many experts thought that voice search would revolutionize how people look for information.
ComScore predicted that, by the end of 2020, more than half of all searches would be conducted using voice search.
However, our recent data suggests that just the opposite is true — with only 18% of voice search users using it at least once a week, the popularity of voice search is declining.
In 2021, nearly 60% of respondents claim they never use voice search.
Kyle MacDonald, Director of Operations of Force by Mojio, a GPS fleet tracking company, believes that people are irritated when voice search technology doesn’t understand what they’re saying.
“Voice search seems very convenient at first, but it can be headache-inducing,” claims MacDonald.
“If you have a slow phone for any reason, it takes multiple attempts to pick up what you're saying. Any kind of accent will also lower the accuracy dramatically. And having sound in the background can compromise it, too.”
Traditional search methods, in comparison, are easier to conduct and are much more reliable. However, MacDonald believes there are still several reasons to invest in optimizing your site’s content for voice search.
”We're still going to do some advertising with it in mind because it's great for local search and also great for accessibility purposes,” MacDonald said.
This is very promising for voice search technology companies: with better technology that recognizes voices across varying languages and dialects, the popularity of voice search technology could improve in the future.
The popularity of voice search could also increase as people return to travel or work after the COVID-19 pandemic. According to recent research, over half of people use a search assistant when driving.
Since many people use voice search when they’re driving and require a hands-free search method, the pandemic may have impacted these numbers as well.
Voice Search Users Seek Information and Send Commands
Users of voice search want to find direct answers.
In 2018, The Manifest found that people were using voice search to figure out fact-based information such as trivia and term definitions (62%), the weather (46%), and the news (32%).
Over 40% of users are still using voice search technology to request information such as the weather.
Eric McGee, Senior Network Engineer at TRGDatacenters, a remote data center, uses voice search multiple times a day for a variety of things.
“I use voice search to find out information that’s both work-related and general,” McGee said. “When it comes to general information, I’m usually looking for where to buy an item near me, or the best place to go to eat, or if I want information about something I’ve seen on my TV or phone.”
Users of voice search, no matter what for, are striving to find a sense of convenience in an integrated, technological world.
Different Age Groups Use Voice Search Distinctly
Voice search users will use voice search technology differently depending on their age and needs.
In 2021, we found that 63% of individuals over the age of 55 have never used voice search technology.
Compared to users between the ages of 35-54 where nearly 30% use it more than once a week (27%).
Daniela Sawyer, founder and business development strategist at FindPeopleFast, a web-based people searching platform, believes in the generational divide.
“Younger generations have interacted with intelligent devices from early childhood while older generations have to learn a new technology from scratch,” Sawyer said.
Younger generations have interacted with intelligent devices from early childhood while older generations have to learn a new technology from scratch
Haim Medine, the co-founder of Mark Henry, a premier jewelry house, feels similarly.
“Technology is embedded into the culture of the younger generation – children as young as 4 years old are using iPads and tablets,” Medine said. “Those over 55 likely have privacy and security concerns. When online shopping began, they were part of the generation who was afraid to provide their credit card information.”
As innovative technology such as voice search is ingrained at an early age for some, it is clear that older generations will use it differently, if at all.
Older Generations Need Information, Younger Generations Make Commands
For active users of voice search technology, different age groups use it for different aspects of their life.
Users between the ages of 18-34 (27%) are more likely to use voice search to issue a command like setting an alarm.
More than 50% of users over the age of 55 (52%) use voice search technology to request information.
“Older generations are mainly interested in the news and weather, so they’re more likely to use voice search for finding out this type of information,” said McGee.
Olivia Tan, co-founder of CocoFax, an online fax solution provider, believes that some generations are more primed for multitasking than others.
“Younger generations use voice search more because of the hands-free quality that allows them to carry out searches while doing other things,” Tan said.
Younger generations use voice search more because of the hands-free quality that allows them to carry out searches while doing other things
Tim O’Brien, the founder of The Healthy Place, a natural vitamin supplement brand, agrees with Tan based on his own connection with his favorite voice search companion.
“The reason I find [voice search] so useful is that it makes my life easier,” O’Brien said. “Siri has become my virtual assistant, and as she gets to know me better, the more she understands me.”
For users of voice search technology, reliance and connection are key factors for frequent use.
Voice Search is Great for Simple Queries
When it was first launched, experts thought voice search technology would revolutionize how people use their devices. However, inaccurate search results seem to have frustrated consumers.
While people continue to use voice search to issue a command or search for simple pieces of information, such as weather and news, the popularity of voice search appears to be declining.
Still, how people use voice search varies across generations. While younger demographics are more likely to use voice search to issue a command, users over the age of 50 are more likely to use it to request information.
However, younger generations are more likely to use voice search, signaling that growth could happen if the technology improves.
About the Survey
The Manifest surveyed 501 voice search users in the U.S.
Most survey respondents are female (55%), and 45% are male.
About 22% of respondents are ages 18-34; 33% are ages 35-54; and 45% are ages 55+.
In July and August 2021, The Manifest surveyed 494 people in the U.S.
29% of respondents were men; 26% were women; 45% did not identify their gender.
12% of respondents were between the ages 18 to 34; 21% of respondents were between the ages 35 to 54; 55% of respondents were 55 and older.