Smart sound: Three brands that have created interactive smart speaker apps
“Alexa, tell Whirlpool to start the dishwasher.” That may not be the phrase you imagined saying on a day-to-day basis, but commands like these might soon be the norm. The smart speaker market went into overdrive in 2018. Over 20% of US households now use these devices, and it's thought that number will surpass 50% by 2022.
For some brands, the purpose of their voice app is obvious. Audio-services like Spotify and Sonos play music. Digital-services like Uber and Dominos deliver their products via voice commands. But But how can other brands also benefit? Developing successful smart speaker apps will improve engagement, recognition, and loyalty.
Smart speaker apps - known on Alexa as “skills” and Google Home as “actions” - are still in their infancy. Most help with simple tasks like listening to the radio or checking the weather. But the marketing potential is huge and some brands have already begun investing.
Television network HBO is associated with screen-based media. But this brand has created some of the most exciting smart speaker apps to date. HBO released their first app following the anticipated season finale of Westworld.
“The Maze” is an Alexa skill that allows fans to experience the Westworld fantasy for themselves. This voice game lasts around half an hour and features voices and sound effects from the show. It moves through 60 player paths, 36 voice actors, 11,000 lines of script, and two hours of unique game play.
HBO's Westworld app has been described as the most ambitious and immersive voice game created to date. It seems to have been a hit with fans too, with one saying, “If this is what we can expect for the future of Alexa, count me in.”
Following the success of their Westworld skill, HBO released a second voice app, this time for children. “Esme and Roy” is a children’s adventure game based on the HBO show of the same name from the creators of Sesame Street.
Whilst some brands offer entertainment, others have created more practical smart speaker apps. Oral B guides users through a brushing routine, and Tide offers stain removal tips. Users in the kitchen often need hands-free help, and there are many smart speaker apps vying for attention. One example is “Campbell’s Kitchen” - a searchable recipe database, designed to help planning and culinary inspiration.
“Campbell’s Kitchen” is activated by commands like, "Alexa, ask Campbell's Kitchen what's for dinner" and "Alexa, ask Campbell's Kitchen for easy chicken dinners". The app has a wider array of recipes, which can be browsed by meal type, cuisine, or ingredients. Campbell’s smart app has direct competition from the likes of Hellman’s, Philadelphia, and Nestlé.
Intially, Estée Lauder’s voice app was called “Estée Lauder Nighttime Expert”. It has since become the far more personable “Liv at Estée Lauder”. The Q&A format of the app allows users to get health and beauty tips and learn skincare application techniques. The brand describes their creation as a personalised beauty experience.
"Adding voice experiences will unlock the next level of personalisation and help us reach a new generation of consumers," said Tricia Nichols, Vice President, Global Consumer Engagement, Estée Lauder. "Through our collaboration with Google, we are expanding our Omnichannel efforts to go beyond stores and online to in-home, at the moment."
To activate the app, users ask to “talk to Liv at Estée Lauder” or use more specific commands such as “Ask Liv at Estée Lauder about nutrition”. They have praised the app as informative and useful.