Unilever taps voice search for next-gen digital consumers

26/10/2017

Unilever is to use Amazon’s Alexa platform as a key role in the FMCG giant’s digital transformation.

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Speaking at this month’s Festival of Marketing in London, Rahul Welde, Unilever's global vice-president for digital transformation revealed voice-powered search will be a significant part of its '5Cs' strategy.

Welde emphasised how voice-controlled technology, such as the type used in Amazon's Alexa, has a key role to play for consumer-facing businesses.

Unilever's 5C framework - its strategy for navigating the connected landscape by looking at consumers, connecting, content, commerce and community - was officially unveiled last month.
The firm will use the technology to build closer relationships with customers, with customer interaction being the company's main emphasis going forward.

"In a couple of years’ time Alexa is going to be in every home more or less. The idea is a friction-free customer experience," said Welde.

"Alexa can enable brands to connect with consumers in a unique way. The simplest way to think about it is the same way you thought about mobile a few years back – that is going to happen to voice."

Welde has no issue with the fact that the voice communicating with consumers is Amazon’s Alexa and not a specific “Unilever voice”. He argues that consumers care more about having their needs met, than what the voice serving them sounds like.

“The consumer is interested in getting the solution to the problem. Do we really worry about whose voice it is? The idea that it should be a specific voice, that is not the concern of consumers. The real excitement is getting the problem solved,” Welde argued.

Recent research from comScore suggests that up to 50% of all search will be voice-powered by 2020, with Silicon Valley leaders ploughing time and money into this area in recent years.

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