Although smart speakers only arrived at the Japanese market recently, users’ interest and adoption have increased dramatically this year, according to Marketing Research Camp, a Japanese research firm.
Smart speaker ownership rate among people aged 15 to 69 was 4.5% by the end of 2017. Two months later, the same research company indicated the rate increased to 5.7% in February, 2018.
Smart speakers were introduced to Japan in October 2017 by Google, Amazon and messaging service LINE. The former two U.S. tech giants both localized their voice assistants for the Japanese market, while LINE designed the Clova speaker for the Japanese market.
As it took three years for the ownership in the U.S. to reach the current 20%, the ownership in Japan is expected to take some time to catch up.
Although adoption is relatively low in the Japanese market, more than 80% of consumers are aware of smart speakers and 10.4% are thinking about getting one. Google and LINE’s TV commercials have significantly raised awareness of smart speakers in Japan, according to Marketing Research Camp.
In Japan, people may feel shy speaking in front of others, which could be a reason for the low adoption rate. According to a voice research study in 2017 by KDDI, 70% of respondents said they feel embarrassed to voice search in front of others, and 40% said they only do so when nobody is in the house.
The younger generation, however, are more familiar of wake-up words “Alexa,” “Hey, Google,” and “Clova” (from LINE), thanks to the companies’ heavy advertising. The awareness could boost smart speaker adoption in the near future.
Large Japanese electronics manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic are also introducing smart speakers powered by Google Assistant. The future outlook of smart speakers in the Japanese market is promising, said Marketing Research Camp.
Amazon brought the Echo Spot, a smart speaker with a touchscreen, to the Japanese market this July, which has inspired local developers to create voice skills with display features.
Similar to how they are used in the U.S., smart speakers in Japan are used mostly for music, news update, timer and alarm. Meanwhile, 17.3% of smart speaker owners in Japan said they use the device for shopping very often.