How will Voice Impact People’s Buying Behaviour?

How Will Voice Impact People’s Buying Behaviour?

“Buyology” is evolving faster than biology; that is, how we buy is changing faster than how living beings evolve. In the last two decades, every industry either saw exponential growth or a drastic disruption, not because they couldn’t keep up, but primarily due to the shift in people’s behaviour strongly influenced by technology.  Kodak could have made better photos, but people wanted more ‘likes’ on Instagram for their filter-brushed pictures instead.

The last two years has been maddeningly fast and wickedly innovative; all this rapid change in people’s attitude and behaviour towards consumption can be attributed to how we use technology. Inito, a startup, lets you test fertility at home with a smartphone; we don’t play music, we stream it, stories are to be told in binge worthy formats and on demand, even animals are impacted for good when the web lets you find mates for pets online.

Every new form of technology changes our buying behaviour, the term iGen stood for the internet generation ten years ago, and quickly moved to being used as the impatient generation, and to satiate our sense of urgency, brands must keep up with the pace. Amazon just revealed that they have over 100 million Prime customers and cited India as the fastest growing market for Prime. The Google Home + Walmart matrimony will be a happy ending for customers. While the e-commerce industry is yet to reach maturity point in the PLC curve, the buzz word omni-channel has been merely confined within the slides of PowerPoint presentations under ‘innovations folder’ for many businesses. And then boom, we already have Voice commerce picking up speed.

How will Voice impact people’s buying behaviour and what can brands do about it?

Voice commerce is a collective term I use to include:

  • Smart home hardware devices such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, other sensors and home appliances.
  • Smart assistants such as Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri.
  • The software or app equivalent on these devices called as Actions on Google, Alexa Skills.  Voice commerce is an ecosystem that includes content and plug-and-play 3rd party products, brands and all the service providers in between.

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Voice can liberate us from the monotony of repeat purchases: We are creatures of habit and seldom change our preferences when buying household goods like toiletries, cosmetics, or sanitary products. Buying these are not classified as shopping, but as chores. Purchasing these goods with voice will be a liberating experience for the money rich, time starved audiences. Just say the words to the conveniently placed voice assistant on kitchen counter and get them delivered to the door step.

For FMCG brands, this is a great news, they can start embracing voice commerce by merely being present on all leading voice platforms.

Everyone’s voice is now heard: The consumer behaviour model has many personas, the influencer, the user, the buyer, the gatekeeper and so on…Now imagine every one of them interacting with a brand at the same time! Voice commerce redefines the concept of family shopping, which by the way, will never be the same again. With smart assistants dwelling amidst us in living rooms, everyone from adolescent children to grand parents have nearly unrestricted interactions with it to discover, consider or purchase things. Deciphering these interactions and influencing them along this new age AIDA model will be an interesting learning curve for brands and marketers.

Reimagining the retail customer experience with human emotions: ROPO or the phenomenon of researching online and purchasing offline has been around since the advent of smartphone, most retail outlets now price match online rates if a customer points it out. But the overall shopping experience in large retail outlets have been consistent (in a boring way) and is ripe for innovation. Currently, the role of the sales person at stores is relegated to a that of a talking human brochure. If a voice assistant can answer product questions in an intuitive and natural conversation, then the true role of sales person would be to build better rapport and ensure customers have a personalised shopping experience, not through data, but through human emotions.

Every new technology takes a significantly lower amount of time than its predecessor to garner a critical mass of users, and the adoption of voice by people has been the fastest so far. Brace yourselves, as we enter a voice-first world.


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