According to the Cowen Company, one in seven American consumers owns an Amazon Echo device. Additionally, ComScore notes that 50% of online searches will be voice controlled by 2020. The following is an actual sequence from earlier today.
Alexa, buy pants.
Amazon’s choice for pants is Goodthreads men’s athletic fit, five pocket chino pants. Navy, 29W x 34L. It’s $32.25 total including tax. Would you like to buy?
No thank you.
That’s all that I can find for pants right now. Check your Alexa app for more options.
Here, Amazon recognizes my request and offers their own brand as the first option. This is a great opportunity for brands looking for a better way to reach new consumers. As consumer adoption of products like Google Home and Amazon Echo continue to accelerate, marketing officers must begin planning around voice as a retail channel. It’s common knowledge that voice assistants will directly and indirectly narrow consumer choices. This is done one of two ways: (a) by recommending goods that are promoted by a brand or (b) by recommending brands and products owned by the platform (see: Amazon’s private labels). For the sake of this argument, 2PM will focus on Amazon’s Echo. It’s a powerful tool with daily relevance in households around the country.
Amazon also debuted Echo Look, a new Alexa-powered device that the company dubs a “hands-free camera and style assistant.” The addition of a camera enables the device to record and comment on its owner’s clothing choices, using a combination of machine learning and human stylist feedback. This advice also takes the form of recommendations, which can drive revenue to Amazon Fashion, and specifically its private-label brands.
Amazon is iterating on and rolling out more features for the Echo Look, including curated content and even crowdsourced (human!) style feedback. It also created an AI algorithm for designing clothes and patented an AR mirror that lets you virtually try on clothes. The value of such a mirror was validated recently by L’Oreal’s acquisition of ModiFace, a company that produces technology that powers similar applications in beauty AR.
Through the use of products like the Echo Look – hardware that allows users to layer visual context on top of voice commerce – consumers are becoming comfortable with Echo as a fashion consumer tool. For executives in the fashion industry, it’s an opportunity to establish an existing brand in a new channel.
Product. Establish a six month test of your brand’s products on Amazon. For young brands with tremendous brand equity this can be terrifying, but these tests are commonplace. Just three days ago, Mizzen + Main listed their retail brand’s company’s basics. In a savvy move, rather than listing the entire catalogue, they focused on the brand’s evergreen products. These are the types of products that can lead to strong SEO that will benefit the company whenever they choose to list seasonal products.
Software. Build your brand’s voice application for Echo. To build consumer connections and facilitate the path to purchase, it could be worthwhile to provide your existing consumers a familiar destination on a new platform. Not only will a branded app experience make it easier to do business with you over voice, experts say that it improves SEO on Amazon.com and through Echo’s product rankings.
Marketing. In addition to emphasizing voice SEO strategy to drive discovery, brands are also measuring voice app data to improve consumer engagement, they are enabling product sales within the branded voice apps, and they are promoting their branded voice app through earned, paid, and social media.
Brand. In 2002, BMW innovated by hiring a barely known British actor to star in a then-revolutionary online ad series called The Hire. Costarring Mickey Rourke, Adriana Lima, Don Cheadle and directed by Guy Ritchie, Ang Lee, John Woo, and Tony Scott – this was a significant investment into entertainment by the German car manufacturer. But nearly 20 years later, it’s not the visuals that consumers remember. It’s the actor’s voice.
In the late 1990s BMW noticed their profits were sliding a bit and decided to start targeting internet-savvy customers, a very forward-thinking move at the time. They asked their longtime parter Fallon Worldwide to come up with a campaign that was more than just pretty BMWs sweeping through the countryside like in the magazine and TV ads, something with a James Bond-esque hero who uses BMWs in a variety of different situations.
Clive Owen starred and narrated the entire series, a project that returned in 2016 under the BMW Films umbrella. In a way, BMW’s marketers gave the brand a human voice and it was such an effective marketing tool that Clive Owen’s intonation remains eponymous to the brand.
The Hire may have been a decade ahead of its time, but it was right on time for BMW’s return to relevance. For retailers who seek to establish their equity over a new channel, remember BMW’s bet on the internet. In a time when scripted podcasts are driving millions of downloads and attracting tens of millions in advertising dollars, consider the potential relevance of a retailer who invests in making their physical goods relevant to audio-hungry consumers.
Once you have command of a new medium. commerce-efficacy is a but one step away.