Our industry has talked about autonomous driving for years now. But that concept expands to what I think is the most fascinating part of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show: autonomous living. It’s the idea that technology can tell us what we need—and help us get it—before we even realize it. Amazon’s Alexa has served as the ultimate gateway, with millions in sales this year. And look at the price tag of the Echo Dot – $50 makes it more affordable and accessible than a lot of other technology.
Ultimately, the world of autonomous living is getting here faster than a lot of people predicted. And that means marketers need to get to work.
Don’t forget the emotional POV
When we talk about machine learning and automation, usually the conversation revolves around function. The idea is that your device will know when you’re running out of deodorant, cereal, laundry detergent—and automatically stock it back up, or at least remind you to re-order it.
But it’s important to consider the emotional perspective as well. Machine learning could enable your device to understand when you want to unwind. Let’s say that it’s Friday and it’s been a long week—maybe you’d like to go to the movies. Your device, tailored to your tastes, can suggest that idea before you’ve even considered it—along with the types of films you’re most likely to enjoy.
Or, maybe you’ve just traveled back on a red-eye flight. It could be the right time to suggest that you splurge on a high-priced latte to keep yourself awake for the rest of the day.
The combination of function and emotion is particularly powerful. Synced up to your calendar, your device knows that you’ve got a wedding to attend in two weeks. You may not need a new dress, but it’d make you happy to buy one. And if there’s a special sale or promo happening at a nearby clothing shop or department store, how perfect would that be if your device suggested it?
That being said, the frustration is real
Technology pushes our imagination to endless numbers of possibilities. And when it fails, consumers get mad as hell.
There’s been a lot of conversation about whether or not scale is AI’s biggest challenge—but I don’t think that’s the case. The biggest challenge for the world of autonomous living is how to match or exceed customer expectations. When Alexa can’t answer your question or give you what you want, the frustration level becomes intensified—because its main selling point is that it’s there to make your life easier.
If you’re a brand in that space, you can’t ignore that risk to your consumer relationships. Research shows that when a mobile web page takes more than just a few seconds to load, the majority of users will abandon it. And you risk them going to your competitor instead. A similar kind of philosophy can be applied here—if your brand provides the wrong recipe ingredients, or can’t answer a specific question about its holiday sales, you risk souring your relationship with the consumer.
What makes that especially challenging is reconciling it with the ability to take risks and move quickly for your brand. Our industry talks a lot about disruption and taking a chance on something new—the importance of that has not, nor will it ever, go away. But it means applying that very same agility to adjusting or proofing your program as need be, to make sure you’re consistently meeting or exceeding consumer expectations.
When all is said and done, as marketers our goal for connecting with consumers starts with identifying and creating the right value exchange, and then ensuring that we adapt our interactions around right time, right place. Autonomous living can and will take that to the next level. And perhaps the most exciting thing about it is this: with all the advancements we’ve already seen, this is still just the beginning.