LONDON, UK – Nearly one third (32%) of consumers plan to buy a home AI device, a new global survey by PwC finds.

In a survey about shopping habits and expectations of over 22,000 consumers in 27 countries, PwC found that 10% of respondents already own home AI devices in the form of virtual assistants and smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home, while a further 32% plan to buy one.

“AI is moving very rapidly into the consumer and retail sectors,” John Maxwell, Global Consumer Markets leader for PwC, said. “Consumers are shifting their shopping behaviours. As soon as they want something, they can order it, rather than think about it until their next shopping trip. Within two to three years, AI could revolutionise how companies profile, segment, and serve customers.”

Consumers expressed the greatest interest in home AI devices in emerging economies, including China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand. Meanwhile, the survey found that demand is lower in developed economies. Brazilian and Chinese consumers are twice as likely (59% and 52% respectively) to plan to own an AI device as their American, British, or French (24-25%) counterparts.

Across all regions, early adopters of AI devices tend to be men between the ages of 18-34, who are open to collaborative consumption, less likely to take action to reduce the risk of online security issues and fraud, and less price conscious.

Retailers will be watching with baited breath as an entirely new commerce channel emerges in the form of voice. ‘Tens of millions’ of Amazon Alexa devices are reported to have been sold, and indeed, many brands – such as ASOS – already offer dedicated voice / visual search through apps and Alexa skills.

The race is on for companies to leverage this AI-powered commerce channel: by 2020, 50% of all searches are predicted to be voice searches. Meanwhile, 45% of store operators say they plan to increase their use of AI within the next three years.

“As it stands now, personal assistants are still relatively primitive – they can understand single commands but not context and patterns of behaviour,” argues Anand Rao, PwC’s Global Leader of Artificial Intelligence. “You are going to see a lot more capability in the next three-to-five years.”

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