This past summer, Magid conducted qualitative research to better understand the experiences of voice assistant owners (both new and more “veteran” owners), including exploring points of normalization and points of friction, discovery and use of skills (including branded content), consumer preferences and desired applications, and privacy and trust. Of the many topics explored, an interesting finding emerged around branded content (most often, this is through branded skills).
Understanding this in more detail lays an important foundation for any brand already participating in, or considering entering, the growing voice space.
Perceived benefits from the consumer perspective
Consumers see many benefits to accessing content provided by specific brands on voice assistants.
- Convenience and value – Branded skills make it easy for consumers to tap into the brands they already know and love. Consumers appreciate brands allowing them a hands-free means to get the information they already desire all in one place. This reduced friction heightens the value of both the content being delivered and of the voice assistant itself.
“I love it! I think [branded skills are] great and make the device better; the more integrations the better, in my opinion. … I think it increases the value of having them.” – Voice assistant owner
- Satisfaction – Especially in cases where a consumer is already familiar with the brand, they tend to be incredibly satisfied with the branded content they can get. Whether by chance or intent, these engagements make consumers even more satisfied with their voice assistant, thus compelling them to use it more.
“I am able to use the brands I love, and this makes me want to continue using my voice assistant.” – Voice assistant owner
- Personalization – Consumers today value customization and personalization, and they appreciate the ability for voice assistants to deliver content that is more relevant to them specifically. For example, weather based on a specific location, news based on topics and sources the consumer is interested in, etc.
- Education and discovery – In some cases, having the branded content available helps consumers learn more specifics about a brand. In others, branded skills help consumers discover brands they might not otherwise.
Consumer perceptions of brands delivering branded skills
Consumers agree accessing content provided by brands can have a strong positive impact on their perceptions of the brand and even motivate their buying habits.
- Innovative and forward-thinking – These brands have actively sought out ways to be more relevant in consumers’ lives and consumers recognize the value.
“I see brands more positively if they have skills on voice assistants because that tells me that they are moving with the times, staying current, and working to give customers what they need to live the most convenient and seamless lives they can.” – Voice assistant owner
- Caring for their customers – Consumers feel that brands are more consumer-centric and caring for their customers when the brand has content available on voice assistants.
“I believe having a branded skill greatly improves their brand overall, since it shows that they care about working with their customers and giving them the best experience possible.” – Voice assistant owner
- Brands they’re more likely to consider – The branded content makes it easy for consumers to find out relevant information about the brand, thus encouraging them to use the brand on a more regular basis. Even just knowing a brand offers a skill can encourage consumers to add that brand to their consideration set with positive interactions driving interest even further.
“I like the brand more. If I had to choose between two brands, and one worked with the voice assistant, then I’d be more likely to work with the voice assistant brand. Having a branded skill makes the brand easy to access, plus is a constant reminder of that brand. Let’s say I needed to know how to handle stains, and I use the Tide stain skill, then I’m more likely to look at Tide when I’m out shopping.” – Voice assistant owner
While the benefits are many, consumers did point out a few drawbacks to using branded content on their voice assistants. Difficulty in setting up or “activating” a skill, concerns overall information coming from only one source (“a monopoly on information”), and feelings of being overwhelmed (particularly if a large number of brand content options exist) can be as potentially detrimental to a brand as a positive experience can be productive to a brand.
As more consumers adopt voice assistants into their lives, brands will need to more deeply understand rapidly evolving consumer perceptions on the role brands can and should play in this new space. Are you ready? Let’s talk.