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Musing our Festive Period Behaviour

Over the festive period some friends over the dining table catechized ‘Just how much does your Echo Dot listen to you?’ It got us talking about reports on how these types of home assistant devices will spontaneously start to respond to seemingly unprompted questions. This provoked cynical discourse regarding the trade-off from the utility these home devices provide and the repercussions they present. It draws parallels to how Google can track your moves as one transverses the internet or how much Facebook penetrates your personal life. In the end, a feeling that a dystopian outcome might just prevail with devices that are constantly listening to all things public and private within the household. For better or worse, we are heading in a direction where regulation maybe required.

As the dust settled after the shopping/holiday season and 2017 it was interesting to read the habits of our population.  Below is a select list of some habitual but intriguing behaviours. However, the list that hasn’t been disclosed could be worrisome.

Jingle Bells was the most requested song on Alexa (Amazon’s Home Device) during the festive period

During the holidays, Alexa devices were used to call our mums the most in Germany and the US, whereas it was Dads in the UK who received the highest number of calls

Recipe for chocolate cookies were the most requested home cooked food

Trolls and Elf was the most requested film on Alexa during the holidays

Globally in 2017, Bitcoin search trends rank 2nd after Hurricane Irma according to Google

Ironically, the most popular item purchased via voice on Alexa was the Echo Dot

The most common question asked was ‘How to make slime?’ in 2017 and not ‘How to buy bitcoin?’ which ranked 3rd

Using voice, over 1 million users turned off their lights with Alexa

In 2017, Despacito (‘Slowly’ for those not rehearsed in Spanish) was the most searched song/lyrics on Google

The bestselling kitchen product globally on Amazon during the holidays was a multipurpose pressure cooker, the Instant Pot DUO80

Joking aside, the commercial reality from how we interact with devices will change the way business is conducted. We are only at the tip of the proverbial iceberg where the growing use of Artificial Intelligence will work hand in glove and change the way we conduct our lives. However, this will mean we allow third parties into our lives to an unprecedented level. Facebook is already in over 2bn lives, monitoring their emotions and movements.

Buy Buy Buy

Although early in the reporting season, preliminary indications suggest that this holiday season has been as strong as they get. According toMasterCard SpendingPulse, US sales holiday sales were +4.9% over last year. Online sales were +18.1% over 2016.

Waste not want not

The not so fun side of buying gifts for loved ones is the reject rate, ie the percent of gifts that are unwanted. In Australia, in 2016 it was estimated that$620m of unwanted Christmas gifts were handed out. That works out to be around 1% of the nearly $50bn spent during the Christmas period. In the USA, that figure is US$16bn of unwanted gifts.  Only a small fraction of this finds its way back on the market to be resold, in fact that figure is estimated to be 7.98%.