Are brands and interfaces set to disappear?

Tomorrow Alexa, Google Home* and perhaps others too will be trying to persuade us to order our products directly and to switch to voice-controlled shopping. This still seems rather surreal to us here in France, but today over 20% of Google requests in the US are voice-controlled. We will write less, we will no longer enter words in a search engine … but we will talk – rightly or wrongly.

But I am absolutely convinced that in the face of this wave of technology, there will be a return to the physical, the human factor, to contact and touch … (but we’ll talk about that another time).

In the flow of our conversations that Amazon, Google or Apple will happily record, we will shop with generic words or simply the names of brands that have passed into common parlance.

“Alexa, can you order me some toilet paper, please? Alexa, we’re out of olive oil. Alexa, order me some Nutella, please. Alexa, I need a new 501.”

What will become of brand names if we merrily bypass them to make our lives easier?

In the future, Amazon could want to push its own products or “own brands” ahead of big national brands.  Will brands need to sell their souls to Amazon? That’s likely … but not really desirable.

What will become of all the websites which the brands have built as primary destinations given that even today they are now secondary or tertiary destinations?

A number of scenarios are possible, but one thing is certain: businesses and brands have some work ahead before the tsunami of artificial intelligence crashes down on them. And yet, tomorrow is already here.

How can I position myself relevantly on the web surfer’s path so that they think of me, THE BRAND, so that they prefer me, so that they order me, even though they spend most of their time on social networks where the main motivation is not linked to brands but to social behaviours which are sometimes difficult to understand.

How to get into a good position in Alexa or Google Home? Is that the solution?

If brands do not address all these issues, they risk suffering and as usual the less able will fall by the wayside.

Rather than running around like headless chickens and turning to startups to shoehorn a technological solution into the business – which is often not scalable – brands and businesses need to get to grips with a series of strategic questions centred on the consumer and customer. For these questions will determine their future.

  • How can I be useful to my customers and provide the added-value services to make them prefer me?
  • What will really differentiate me from other brands and products or these new intermediaries?
  • How can I put emotion back into a relationship which is too often built on the product and the transaction whereas tomorrow the purchase will be no more than a formality with a little anodyne phrase?
  • How can I build an ecosystem in which I will be there when the consumer really needs me and not vice versa?
  • How can this “touchpoint” ecosystem, which is increasingly becoming an ecosystem of interaction and exchange, integrate “touchvoice”?
  • How can I, as a brand, use artificial intelligence to meet the real demands of my consumers and customers at the very moment they want me to?

There are lots of questions; we have a great deal to do and the task ahead is immense, as our new president would say.

My Chinese friends, who I have been able to observe for some 4 years and who, in my view, are the most advanced digitally in terms of use, already have an answer. WeChat, the mega social and commerce app where the alliance between brands and utility is taking shape and evolving.

And here? It’s up to us to imagine what we want as the future for our brands and businesses, isn’t it?

 

*Google Home will be available in France in the course of summer 2017.

#amazon #google #ecommerce #brandstrategy #digitalecosystem #cexp #wechat #china

 

Florence Garçon
Founding Partner of SUPPER

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