Marketing is no longer about just creating some great communication, and using media to reach it to a large number of consumers, with the hope of influencing their buying decision. Marketing is now more about creating fabulous consumer experiences, which keeps the customer coming back to the brand. Use of voice seems to now playing a big role in enhancing this experience and in creating more sticky brand engagement.
Nike, who is always been at the forefront of using technology to enhance consumer experiences, leverages voice across its’ customer lifecycle. While on one hand you can use Nike Coach on a Google Assistant to help find you the right shoe, you can also use Apple’s Siri voice assistant to tighten and release laces on Nike’s Adapt Huarache line of sneakers. Nike’s Adapt app converts your shoes into a voice-controlled IOT device…...so whether it is tieing laces, changing the colour of LED display on the shoe or adjusting the fit….you just need to call it out, and it gets done.
The cars of tomorrow are not going to be just a transportation device. They will be a platform, much like your smartphone. While your self-driving car takes to you to your destination, the car windows will turn into LED screens and then you can use voice commands to launch any content or activity on these screens. Last year, Mercedes integrated SoundHorn’s Houndify voice platform into Mercedes-Benz-A-Class vehicles in the North America market. Say “Hey Mercedes” and your car comes to life, to obey and execute your commands…a first step in this direction.
Online commerce is an obvious extension of using voice for marketing. 1-800-Flowers has been one of the earliest players in this arena. They have enabled voice ordering on Google Assistant, on Alexa, on iPhones and Android phones, on Samsung’s Bixby platform. Each of these platforms have tens of thousands of customers. And no matter, which platform you are on, 1-800-Flowers on–voice, is there for you. 1-800 Flowers offers an insights into a strategy that other brands should consider: be wherever your customers are.
Starbucks in another visionary brand, who has generally been an early adopter of technology. The “reorder” skill on its mobile app, is meaningful to Starbucks regulars as the in-store lines are known to be long. Ford has integrated Starbucks into its voice command dashboard, thereby enabling orders to be placed while driving. In association with Alibaba, Starbucks has launched smart speakers. The device is simply a variant of Alibaba’s smart speaker, Tmall Genie except that now it comes with Starbucks branding…another way of revenue expansion, while building brand equity.
Sony Pictures Television is leveraging voice to reach out to fans in a new way, and at the same time also generate revenue. Sony’s gameshows like ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” or “Jeopardy!” have engaged television viewers for decades. Now these games are available on voice activated apps. Users can play one game of six questions free every day. Thereafter you need to pay $1.99 per month, to play double the number of games every day and also get a chance to play shows that they might have missed on television. HBO’s Westworld and Universals Jurrasic Park are other examples of how brands are using voice–based marketing, not only for consumer engagement, but also as an alternate source of revenue.
Another category that seems to be adopting voice marketing very well seems to be Healthcare. Pharmaceuticals company Zyrtec has a Alexa skill that shares daily pollen count for the users location. Also the app asks the user how does the user feel every day and records the pollen counts that were high at the point of time. Using these two pieces of data, Zyrtec’s AllergyCast skill can tell a user which forms of pollen are they most sensitive to, providing immense benefit to people who suffer from seasonal allergies. Not only does this help Zyrtec as a brand, come out a trustworthy brand, it also provides the brand a few moments of absolutely personalized one-to-one engagement with the consumer…...the kind of attention that brands would die to have.
Closer home, brands like KFC, Uber, Amazon, Zomato and Syska, among others, have embraced voice technology with the idea of creating one more channel of consumer engagement and commerce. Clearly voice engagement seems to be going beyond just the traditional ‘play-the-music’ and ‘how-is-the-weather’ kind of communication to more integrated brand experiences.