Remember the days when you would go to Costco and parade around the massive warehouse for those tasty complementary samples? Or when a simple trip to Target to get paper towels and dish soap became a full-fledged exploration for fuzzy socks, new headphones, and irrelevant goodies from the dollar section? Since Amazon launched the notorious Alexa in November 2014, the in-store shopping experience hasn’t quite been the same. What used to require driving time, customer crowds, and pesky check-out lines can now be streamlined to a simple, single voice command. And that technological advancement is changing the way shoppers interact with brands, in addition to reinventing the buying process in the meantime.
Gartner, a leading research company known for advising corporate businesses, estimates that by 2020, 30% of browsing sessions will occur without the use of a screen. This anticipated shift suggests an evolution where buying decisions will be prompted, and thus, the process overseen, by voice assistants.
Due to the fact that modern conveniences like Alexa and Google Home lack a space to present visuals, we’re still awaiting a progression that presents a place to sponsor products on these devices. Nonetheless, brands need to be thinking about how they will evolve their user experience with this execution in mind.
Interestingly enough, experts say that these voice applications don’t function with the intent to generate sales. Rather, they operate with the intent to encourage increased usage while engaging consumers in a more authentic way. This gives brands an opportunity to initiate a more genuine dialogue with their audience, and suggest new ways for customers to interact with their product and brand more wholly. We’ve seen brands implement strategies that take their brand beyond the product itself, like Tide’s Stain Remover app, which provides tips for removing 200+ types of stains, REI’s Opt Outside holiday campaign, or Campbell’s Campbell’s Kitchen initiative which gives consumers access to fun recipes and cooking how-to’s. The strategic thinking beyond on the horizon is this type of mindset, but with voice.
Nestlé is beginning to tap in to this emerging trend as they recently launched an extension of their brand, titled GoodNes, which utilizes voice capabilities to provide users with cooking instructions that pairs with a guide that lives online.
With the rapid advancement of voice, it begs the question of what capabilities may surface beyond to engage the remaining senses. Amazon released its Echo Show, which resembles an Echo 2.0, if you will. Powered with the same functionalities as Alexa, this product comes with a 7-inch screen. Google has developed its competitive alternative, so the fact these products are already in development indicates the relevance they will soon have. As the industry embraces this progression, questions of how to use 3-D holograms to convey a tangible feeling or smell of a product using technology is not far off.
While there are many questions marks still associated with the topic, like how algorithms and SEO will function in tandem with voice search and how to refine the process of understanding and responding, brands need to be thinking about how they’re going to translate their voice in an entirely new way.
(….And lucky for you, RDIA can help with that! Yes, shameless self-promo, but we do specialize in this area if you’re looking to get ahead of the curve.)