“Hey, voice assistant!” How do users perceive you? An exploratory study

  • Michela Patrizi
  • Maria Vernuccio
  • Alberto Pastore
Keywords: voice assistants; anthropomorphism; human-like voice; benefits; EFA; cluster analysis


Purpose of the paper: The increasing consumer adoption of voice-based artificial intelligence technologies is starting to catch the attention of researchers. This study fits into the nascent marketing literature on user perceptions of interactions with voice assistants (VAs) by exploring perceived VA anthropomorphism and benefits. We also seek to identify millennial clusters based on perceptual differences.

Methodology: Quantitative exploratory research was conducted based on questionnaires (N=337) administered to millennials. The data were analysed through exploratory factor analysis. Subsequently, to identify clusters, we performed K-means cluster analysis.

Findings: The EFA indicated a four-factor solution: “utilitarian and hedonic benefits”, “symbolic benefits”, “human-like voice” and “human-like presence”. The K-means cluster analysis identified three clusters: “useful and pleasant”, “human” and “status symbol”.

Research limits: This paper is not exempt from limitations, especially those related to the exploratory nature of the analysis techniques adopted.

Practical implications: Indicating the main perceptual dimensions of VA anthropomorphism and the benefits associated with user-VA interaction, our results provide marketers with important strategic implications for designing the VA interaction experience. The cluster analysis offers companies the possibility of selecting a target and addressing it by creating a specific value proposition.

Originality of the paper: This study contributes to the existing partial and fragmented knowledge by offering an overall integrated interpretation of consumer perceptions related to VA interactions. Our findings are the first to jointly reveal user perceptions of the human voice and of the VA as a human interlocutor. Moreover, we contribute to the literature on anthropomorphism by conceptualising the human-like voice construct.


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