Thursday, April 5, 2018

In the Age of the Smart Speaker, Brand Is More Important Than Ever

Thanks to Amazon, Alexa has become a household name. She didn’t have to be a movie star or a music artist to become recognizable all around the world–all she did was manage to make our day-to-day lives that much easier.

The smart speaker industry is currently valued at $2.68 billion and is expected to grow to around $11.79 billion by 2023. Clearly, the age of the smart speaker is here, as IoT-enabled technologies continue to improve. Voice-activated assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, are integrating themselves into our lives and their capabilities are growing and changing, which is why it’s no surprise that the next area our trusty smart speakers are infiltrating is something we do everyday–shopping.

This new trend, lovingly referred to as v-commerce (voice-powered commerce), is the newest and arguably the swiftest growing feature in these speakers–with 29 percent of smart speaker owners already using voice commands to shop. Shopping via smart speaker–a trend that 41 percent say they plan to join in the future–is likely going to change the game of shopping forever. (Think about it this way…right when the retail industry is learning to navigate the growth of e-commerce, here we are yet again with a new game-changing technology).

As this shift continues, it will become increasingly important to build brand rapport with customers. But why is this more important than when consumers are simply walking through an aisle? Well, when Alexa goes to make the purchase, she doesn’t ask what brand of toothpaste you were intending to add–she simply adds one to the cart. So, don’t lose out based on the convenience factor. Create a relationship with your customers so they don’t just ask Alexa for toothpaste, they ask for Crest toothpaste.

To help, here are a few tips and tricks to position yourself so that you are worthy of a branded callout.

Make a Real Connection with Consumers
When you create a touchpoint that hits home with your consumers, you’ve found the key to not just the customers hearts, but their wallets. By creating an emotional connection, you not only become more personal as a brand, but you also become more trustworthy in the eyes of consumers. Take a second to remind yourself of the Always, Like a Girl campaign. The feminine hygiene brand executed an emotionally-driven campaign seamlessly by creating this emotional connection through personal, meaningful, and relevant content–which resulted in double-digit increase in brand equity, more than 1,100 earned-media placements in just the first three months, and a 50 percent increase in purchase intent for the brand.

Right Message, Right Audience
This issue is more complex than it seems at face-value. It requires first matching your content to your audience’s potential needs, their desires, things they enjoy, their influencers and what their influencers are going to amplify. This will cause the consumer to see a real, personal use-case for your product, and further compel them to buy your brand over another’s

In addition, these messages must be delivered to the correct group of people. The same product can appeal to a range of people, but often you have to show them why it is appealing. Take Apple for example–a brand that is not only highly recognizable worldwide but also one that does an exceptional job of tailoring messages to their audience. Check out these two ads, identical in meaning but different in content based on distribution in China versus the USA. This additional thoughtfulness proves to consumers that you are thinking of them rather than creating a blanket message.

Don’t Forget About Digital
At the core of marketing efforts should be creating a brand experience that is unlike any other. Essentially, the brand experience is about designing a sensory experience that brings a person into a lasting and meaningful relationship with a brand–this is exactly where digital comes in. By connecting with your customers on the devices they spend the majority of their time, you will be able to communicate your messages in a more effective way. In today’s mobile world, this means mobile. By meeting your potential (or current) customers on their mobile devices, you create two important opportunities for both parties: simple and convenient engagement and customizable content.

Brand differentiation has always been an issue companies are consistently wrestling with–but, with technology continuing to grow and expand, brands are faced with new challenges to ensure they are the ones added to the virtual shopping cart. Don’t wait until it’s too late–work to ensure you are a brand worthy of “calling-out” today!