One of the most important objectives for any brand is share of voice, but when it comes to smart speakers, brands may be losing theirs. According to just-completed research from comScore, smart speakers represent a new threat to brand loyalty.
Among the findings: smart speakers recommended a brand other than the one the consumer was trying to order through the device.
The new digital interface also appears to be changing the way consumers select products, emphasizing “items” over “brands.” When using their smart speakers to order something, comScore found that 42% of the time consumers corrected a category item (like “detergent”) vs. a brand (like “Tide”).
“They might also be negatively influencing brand loyalty,” Ryan Williams, head of client insights-retail, travel and CPG at comScore, forewarned during a preview of the measurement firm’s “2018 State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy” Tuesday.
“When you go to the grocery store, you go to the aisle with your favorite product and buy the brand you are familiar with, but when people are ordering through smart speakers, nearly half the time, they’re actually not saying the brand name,” he cautioned, adding, “So, the likelihood of them getting the result or retaining the brand they want are diminished because of that.”
Williams emphasized smart speaker adoption is still early on and both consumer behaviors and technology protocols could evolve over time, but consumer adoption is accelerating because the major marketers of smart speakers -- Amazon, Google, Apple and others -- are pricing them to cultivate a mass marketplace.
He said most consumers are buying them based on their affordability and the novelty of something new, but they’re still not utilizing them much beyond “checking the weather, asking general questions and streaming music.”
He said only 30% of smart speaker owners have actually used them to order a product online, and most haven’t even begun leveraging them for obvious uses such as communicating with brands, ordering food through delivery services or even banking.
He cited a number of impediments common with the adoption of many new technologies, including concerns over data privacy and entering financial information to place orders.
Additionally, he said the smart speaker interface itself isn’t always that stable and is prone to misunderstanding voice commands and placing incorrect orders.
Another major fault is something that could be a factor for other voice-based interfaces: the lack of a screen to provide a visual reinforcement and confirmation for consumers selecting brands and ordering products of services.
“You can’t see product details. There’s a lot of risk for incorrect orders or misheard voice commands,” Williams noted, adding, “You can’t review the product or do a lot of research.”
Williams said some smart speaker marketers, notably Amazon, are beginning to offer versions with screens to provide such feedback, but that market is still nascent.
Another big factor Williams only alluded to was the fact that the platforms themselves can play a gatekeeping function in terms of what products and services they recommend for consumers regardless of what the consumer’s inputted query happens to be.
“When you combine this with the number of times the device offered a deal or a discount on another brand, you can see how becoming loyal to a specific brand through these devices might actually be difficult,” Williams concluded, adding, “You don’t know what you’re going to get.”