As growing numbers of Americans shop from home for everything from clothing and furniture to pantry staples, businesses are navigating more efficient ways to satisfy their needs by experimenting with new shipping technologies

Until recently, drones – unmanned aircraft that fly autonomously – were regulated primarily to popular commercial and professional uses, such as real estate photography, military surveying, and agricultural management. However, the consumer-level market continues to develop as more human-controlled autonomous aircraft become viable emergency solutions for delivering necessities to households impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and during natural disasters

From Whispers to Buzz

CivicScience has followed early resonation about drones and ground-roving robots as revolutionary links in the consumer-delivery supply chain. Naturally, given that more than half of the gen pop uses some type of delivery service — and as the adoption of drone technology takes off — it was time for a bird’s eye view into consumer favorability. According to CivicScience data collected after January 1, 2020, one-fifth of the overall adult population reports some degree of personal interest in the niche technology, which has generally held steady per quarter. 

Furthermore, 9% of drone-forward respondents personally own aircraft, with another 11% of U.S. adults showing interest in future drone ownership. 

When it comes to current interest in drone use among those aware of the autonomous aircraft industry, 15% of respondents are currently thinking about — or have already launched into — the option of purchasing or renting a drone.

New Take on Ordering ‘Wings’ to Go

The primary area for potential drone expansion and deployment is delivery infrastructure and operations. And with the industry’s shift to public-level interaction — from library books to meal deliveries — it seems the sky’s the limit as consumers warm up to the idea of flying food directly to their doorsteps. So while fewer Americans may be interested in using a drone themselves, more than one-quarter (26%) of U.S. adults report being likely to at least try drone-delivery options for takeout food orders if offered as a to-go option.

Air Primed for Online Retailers

The case for adoption becomes even more compelling when studying the idea of using drones for deliveries from major online retailers. Thirty-six percent of the 2,603 U.S. adults recently surveyed said they would be open to select the option of autonomous aircraft drops for products ordered virtually.

When crossed with Amazon Prime users, favorability to use drone delivery for purchases increases greatly, with 15% of current Prime account holders being ‘very likely’ to use the service, followed by an additional 28% being at least somewhat keen on the idea. All in all, almost half (43%) of those who’ve held a Prime membership in the last three months would be willing to try out a drone delivery. 

It would seem that the option of choosing a drone delivery service expands beyond Prime Account membership. Sixteen percent of recent respondents who don’t currently hold a Prime membership indicate some degree of likeness to give the service a whirl. 

Setting the Targets

Although still calibrating, drone adoption has started to attract multiple groups of people beyond an exclusive community of tech-savvy users. When it comes to the appeal of drones based on income, higher earners are most likely to have already used or intend to use some form of airborne robotics to drop off ordered items. Households reporting an annual income of more than $100k are the most favorable to trying out drone delivery services (29%), but even earners who make less than $50k per year aren’t beyond reach (20% total). 

While still honing in on major target markets, ideal reach for drone adoption includes parental status and urbanicity. While non-parents are currently more likely than parents to adopt or entertain the idea of receiving their orders via drone – possibly at least somewhat a proxy for age — parents aren’t are far behind.  Ten-percent of parents indicate they are ‘very likely’ to test out drones for home deliveries. The option also lands favorably among 22% of parents who are at least somewhat likely to consider adopting drone technology for online purchases. 

Finally, urbanicity may be the most interesting target market for development of autonomous aircraft delivery infrastructure. While not surprising that 27% of city dwellers and 26% of suburbanites identify as adopters or likely intenders, even 22% of rural households present a growing segment of the population interested in receiving their shopping and food via drone delivery services. 

At the risk of droning on about the future of aerial delivery adoption, the possibility of drones dropping packages off at American front porches is definitely up there. While not yet mainstream, general growing favorability for these options point to future market growth and potentially large investment areas for major retailers looking to meet the needs of shop-from-home consumers. CivicScience will continue to measure the buzz on this, as well as hundreds of other top markets and major industries. Connect with us for even more in-depth insights, cross-tabs, and segments about your consumer.