InnovationVoice searchVoice search consumer trends: D2C brands, are you listening?

Voice search consumer trends: D2C brands, are you listening?

Unpack insights and tap into the power of voice SEO (VSEO) for your digital marketing strategy with this roadmap

30-second summary:

  • Voice search has evolved from being a nice-to-have answering feature to being a strong avenue for creating unique consumer experiences
  • According to Barilla and Vixen Labs’ latest research, one in three people across the United States, UK, and Germany use voice search to ask questions about products, businesses, and services daily
  • Nitin Dhamelia, Global Digital & Search Marketing Manager at Barilla Group, shares insights and effective steps for building a voice search (VSEO) strategy

While consumers seem to pivot faster than brands, several D2C brands are actively seeking alternative ways to advance their digital marketing and SEO strategies. The reason is simple – consumers are increasingly relying on voice search to find information and make purchasing decisions. With significant improvements in voice search accuracy and the proliferation of voice-enabled touchpoints through popular virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, and others, VSEO has become an indispensable tool in every marketer’s arsenal.

According to Barilla’s Voice Consumer Index (VCI) for 2022, a staggering one in three people across the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany now use voice search to ask questions about products, businesses, and services daily. If businesses want to effectively engage with their target consumer, it is crucial to start optimizing for voice search and be present where consumers are actively seeking information.

The rise of voice technology: how consumers are embracing voice assistants and search in their daily lives

The convenience and accessibility of voice assistants have made them an integral part of our lives, especially during busy and hands-on moments. Whether we’re carrying shopping bags or driving, voice assistants provide a safe and convenient way to interact with technology without needing to reach for our phones or computers.

The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the adoption of voice assistants as we relied on smart speakers, phones, and headphones to help us manage everyday tasks. Now that the world has opened up, we’ve carried these new habits with us, integrating voice assistants into a wide range of devices, from game consoles and TVs to wireless headphones that accompany us wherever we go.

What was once considered a novelty has transformed into a helpful assistant that accompanies us throughout the day. More people than ever before are using voice technology on a daily and weekly basis, indicating a shift from casual usage to a more ingrained and habitual pattern. Using voice has become as reflexive as pulling out our phones when we receive a notification, and this trend is expected to continue growing in the coming years.

This shift in attitude towards voice assistants has also affected various sectors:


Voice search in the retail sector has experienced significant growth in the UK and the US, while remaining steady in Germany. In the US, over 54% of retail-related searches are conducted through voice, while the figure stands at around 40% in the UK and Germany.


The US has witnessed a notable increase in voice searches related to entertainment. Usage has slightly increased in the UK but decreased by 4% in Germany since 2021.

Consumer Packaged Goods

The US leads in voice search for consumer-packaged goods, followed by Germany and the UK. Nearly 50 percent of searches in the US are conducted through voice, while it’s closer to 35 percent in the UK and Germany.


Voice search related to healthcare has remained consistent in the UK and Germany, but the US has seen a significant increase. Just over half of US consumers, and approximately 40 percent in the UK and Germany, use voice to conduct healthcare-related searches.

Voice technology is becoming an integral part of consumers’ daily lives. Daily usage has seen an 8 percent increase in the US and a 5 percent increase in the UK since 2021. Moreover, overall usage has also grown, indicating that as consumers become more comfortable with voice assistants, they are using them more frequently. With over half of the market’s consumers using voice technology, marketers cannot afford to overlook it as a channel. Developing a voice strategy and roadmap is crucial to seize the opportunity to reach and engage their audiences effectively.

Consumers are using voice assistants to enhance productivity and drive engagement

In James Clear’s acclaimed book “Atomic Habits,” the concept of ‘habit stacking’ takes center stage. It involves linking a new habit with an existing one to facilitate its development. For instance, when you turn off your alarm in the morning, reaching for your phone becomes an automatic response— a habit many of us can relate to.

A snapshot of voice assistant usage

In 2022, the frequency of voice assistant usage increased across all markets. Tasks that were commonly performed last year have become more deeply ingrained in our daily routines. Whether it’s selecting music, controlling IoT devices, or obtaining travel information, voice assistants have seamlessly integrated into our lives.

The most significant shift in usage has been observed in commercial activities driven by voice search. An astounding 92 percent of voice consumers now use voice search to browse the web, with 40 percent of them doing so regularly. Not only has the frequency of voice search increased, but its accuracy and speed have also garnered positive feedback. People find voice search to be more precise and faster than typing, making it their preferred method to inquire about brands, local businesses, and specific product information.

Voice assistants are becoming an indispensable part of consumers’ daily lives

In all three markets surveyed (US, UK, and Germany), the percentage of people using voice assistants has approximately doubled since the previous year. Voice assistants have become a vital part of people’s lives, providing convenience and efficiency in completing various tasks.

A significant number of individuals across these markets acknowledge the value that voice assistants bring to their daily lives. Around half of the respondents agree that using voice search is quicker than traditional text-based search methods. They also find that voice search enables them to efficiently find the information they need.

Increasing touchpoints for brands

As consumers recognize the value of voice technology, they are finding more opportunities to use it in their lives. Consequently, the number of touchpoints for brands is expanding. To effectively engage with their audience, brands must understand the frequency and diversity of these touchpoints. By delivering the right message at the right time and place, brands can leverage the increased usage of voice assistants to create meaningful connections with their customers.

Today’s consumers primarily seek assistance rather than simply an assistant. Their interactions with voice assistants remain task-oriented, emphasizing the importance of fulfilling user needs promptly and conveniently. Brands that prioritize delivering on these promises and subsequently focus on building engagement and relationships will cultivate greater customer loyalty and satisfaction.

What sets voice search SEO (VSEO) apart from traditional SEO?

Voice Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) shares similarities with its well-known cousin, Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Both strategies aim to drive organic website traffic and enhance brand visibility through content optimization and the strategic use of keywords. However, VSEO places a particular emphasis on conversational, natural language – the way people speak in their everyday lives.

When users activate their voice assistant instead of typing their queries, they tend to use longer phrases or questions, known as long-tail keywords. Unlike traditional SEO, where search results typically include multiple listings, voice search often provides only a single result known as “position zero” in the voice realm. This single result is equivalent to the featured snippet in traditional SEO.

The integration of Microsoft-ChatGPT and the continuous improvement of Google’s AI search model, Bard, are transforming the landscape of internet search. As these engines evolve and become deeply connected to search experiences, the content of brands, businesses, and personal websites will become increasingly intertwined with generative media. This convergence between traditional and voice SEO highlights the growing importance of optimization for both modalities.

“As these engines go from being generators to being deeply connected to search, your brand, business, and personal website content will become ever more entwined with generative media.” – James Poulter, CEO and Co-founder at Vixen Labs

Getting started with VSEO: key steps and strategies

The first step in leveraging VSEO is content optimization. The goal is to make your content the preferred response to customers’ voice queries, which requires a conversational approach. Consider what your brand is known for and position yourself as an authoritative source within your industry. When people ask questions, be the go-to resource for providing helpful and informative answers.

By addressing the right questions, you can alleviate pressure on customer service teams while supporting your sales department. Conduct thorough research to understand your consumers’ needs, goals, behaviors, pain points, and desires. Often, the insights gathered through traditional SEO analysis will remain relevant in the voice search context. However, you must account for the differences in how people ask questions verbally compared to how they type them. Long-tail keywords should be your closest ally, starting from the research stage onward.

VSEO offers more than just question-answering capabilities. You can prompt users to explore further and continue their inquiries. Rather than providing only basic facts, take users on a journey by offering additional information they might be interested in. For example, if someone asks about a product’s ingredients, they might also want to know where they can purchase it and how much it costs.

Lastly, leverage your existing SEO practices to support your VSEO strategy. If your keywords, backlinks, title tags, and meta descriptions are already in good shape, you can seamlessly transition into optimizing for voice search. If not, now is the perfect time to invest in both traditional and voice SEO and watch them grow in collaboration.


Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable using voice technology across various devices. Brands must recognize that voice usage extends beyond smart speakers. Just like any other digital content, brands need to ensure their voice content is accessible across multiple channels and devices to meet their audience’s needs. By doing so, they not only cater to the current demand for voice experiences but also establish a foundation for emerging channels like the metaverse.

Nitin Dhamelia is the Global Digital & Search Marketing Manager at Barilla Group.

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