By Jacob Passy
A new study examines the spending habits of Amazon's customers
The Amazon Echo you got for Christmas (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazon-says-echo-dot-fire-tv-stick-were-holiday-best-sellers-2017-12-26) could come with an unexpected price tag.
People who own Amazon's (AMZN) smart speaker spend 66% more on average at the online retailer than other consumers, according to a survey of 2,000 Amazon customers in the U.S. between October 2016 and September 2017 from Chicago-based research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.
Echo owners spend $1,700 annually at Amazon on average. Comparatively, members of the Amazon Prime program spend around $1,300 a year at Amazon -- and the average for all American Amazon customers is $1,000 per year. (Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
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Researchers said the smart speaker market is still relatively young at barely three years old, which makes an analysis like this somewhat premature. It's also not clear whether similar habits would extend to those who own rival devices, such as Google (GOOGL) Home or Apple's (AAPL) forthcoming HomePod. Nevertheless, it's part of "an unmistakable trend," Mike Levin, CIRP co-founder and partner, said in the report.
The Echo arguably makes shopping much easier, even more seamless than Amazon's "1-click" ordering (https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=468480). When Echo owners set up their device through the Alexa smartphone app, which includes Amazon account and payment information, voice shopping is enabled by default. All an Echo user has to do is ask Alexa (the intelligent assistant that powers Echo devices) to place an order for an item -- though the item must be Prime-eligible. Consumers can add a four-digit PIN to prevent unintentional purchases.
Amazon further entices consumers spending (and brand loyalty) by providing special offers (https://www.amazon.com/b/ref=s9_acss_bw_cg_VANS_1b1_w?node=16924218011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-2&pf_rd_r=G72WSVCP7D1K223TA6AM&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=5e9687ca-99c6-4dc0-b044-7bf3597e5d3b&pf_rd_i=14552177011) only to people with Alexa-enabled devices, which includes the Echo as well as third-party smart speakers.
"Amazon creates products and services that seek to promote retail shopping and deeper affiliation at Amazon.com," Levin said "Amazon probably wants the Echo device family to stand on its own as a consumer electronics line, while supporting the greater mission of succeeding as an online retailer."
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(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-best-piece-of-money-advice-youve-never-heard-2017-01-05)While the Echo may be beneficial to Amazon's bottom line, it might be damaging to the average American's pocket book. As of June, Americans' credit card debt had reached an all-time high (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-households-will-soon-have-as-much-debt-as-they-had-in-2008-2017-04-03) at more than $1 trillion, and experts expect that fewer Americans in 2018 will be able to pay off their debt (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/one-sure-fire-prediction-for-2018-americans-will-take-on-even-more-debt-2017-12-18) on a timely basis.
Holding off on that Echo purchase might very well be one way to prevent unnecessary spending -- but there are plenty of other tried-and-true methods to resist the splurge. Doing everything from unsubscribing from retailers' email lists to checking out as a guest when online shopping can help curb overspending.
-Jacob Passy; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires