How voice technology is shaking up brand marketing

Whilst still relatively in its infancy, voice technology has the potential to shake up the retail world in a way not seen since the concept of brand marketing was launched 80 odd years ago. According to research from Comscore, by 2020, 50% of searches will be done by voice.

This will turn much of traditional marketing on its head and to an extent eliminate the need for packaging, design etc as we know it – essentially all the things that brands have invested huge amounts of time and money in. Without the visual cue of packaging, the product will become the marketing.

However, according to recent research carried out, roughly 66% of marketers have no plans to begin preparing for voice search. Yet to succeed in a brave new world where search is everywhere, organisations need to wake up to the opportunities and challenges voice technology presents.

>See also: The next disruption: pervasive voice-first at work

Although voice technology looks set to shake up aspects of brand marketing, key elements, will become even more vital. As overt branding ceases to be as relevant in ‘catching the shopper’s eye’, organisations must strive to become ‘utility brands’ – or, put simply, useful by way of service. This could take the form of anything from an innovative app to a physical product that gamifies the management of diet, health and consumption, through to a community platform.

But irrespective of marketing medium, it’s more important than ever for brands to establish their ‘why’, and how that can be translated into content, community, research or advice that establishes them as a trusted and authentic voice in the space. It’s particularly important in FMCG, where brand purpose has often been secondary to other marketing mantras: price, promotion and place.

>See also: Taking voice interaction to the next level

In the context of food as an example, consumers will increasingly micro-focus in on specific ingredients, attributes and benefits. Creating content that guides and educates will help brands own the space.

A great example of how this is already benefitting consumers is in Google’s ‘Answer Boxes’, which analyses both structured and unstructured data to help users get quick results to questions tapped into the search box; the same data structure that powers Google Home. The Google Answers team has a mission to ‘answer every question in the world’ – that’s a big mission in early stage, and one where SERPs rankings are for the taking.

In the higher end market, which is moving from product to ‘experience economy’, brand will be everything. However, at the more commoditised end of the market, products will be disseminated into stats; numbers that we can sift through easily and model to best serve our intent. Brand loyalty will be low; users will be able to augment their decision making with processing power on the fly to process product vitals and find the right fit.

>See also: Voice commerce is coming sooner than expected

For home essentials, people will decide their priorities, and AI will evaluate the market for the best fit based on what people value…do they care about the environment when choosing our lights? Or longevity? Or where a product is made? Or price?

By 2020, brand marketing will move to a place where every buying decision made will be a truer reflection of our values and price sensitivity. If brands want to stay relevant, they need to act now to ensure they can keep up.


Sourced by Anant Sharma, CEO at Matter of Form, the brand, digital innovation and eCommerce agency


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...