A Marketer's Lens By Danette Amstein
Danette Amstein is a managing principal for Midan Marketing - a full-service agency that solely focuses on supporting the meat industry.

Beam me up, Siri: What voice-assisted search means for the meat business

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

A weeklong business trip in November uncovered a shocking revelation:  Siri has become my new BFF. I asked her for the weather each morning, the location of the closest gas station and directions to a restaurant. I had her text my husband while I was getting ready for a meeting and call my son while I was driving.

Voice assistance used to be something we saw only on episodes of Star Trek. If you are a Trekkie, you know all interactions started with one word: “Computer.”  Well, “Computer” has been replaced by Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google. Since 2011, when Siri first entered our world, over one billion devices are now enabled with voice assistance.

It is time to determine what the meat industry must do to be relevant in this age when a voice is as powerful as a key stroke.

Nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) of American adults own a smartphone and 61% of smartphone owners use voice assistance monthly; 24% use it daily. The most common use time is while driving (61%). More interesting to me, however, is this stat: 24% use voice assistance while cooking. (1)

I can relate. This past summer I upgraded my air fryer to the Ninja Foodi - an air fryer/pressure cooker/slow cooker appliance. A couple of times a week I found myself in the kitchen, hands busy prepping and asking questions like “Alexa, how long do I cook a pork tenderloin in the air fryer?” and  “Alexa, can I brown ground beef in a Ninja Foodi?”

Did she answer me?  Always. Were her answers helpful?  Some of the time. She often wanted to direct me to a recipe she had found, offering to read it aloud or send it to my phone. It’s critical that when Joe Meat Consumer asks how to cook a steak, Alexa, or whatever the newest device is, quickly scans the Internet and finds proper cooking directions. If we as an industry aren’t thinking about how we fit into this equation, we are missing the boat.

Many in the meat industry are still trying to figure out the best way to step into e-commerce when v-commerce (voice assisted commerce) is already here and growing. According to a Statista survey done last January, 45% of Millennials use voice assistance to shop for products and search product reviews. Are they searching for meat?  Probably not right now. But as they become more comfortable with how artificial intelligence gets to know them and replies with appropriate answers, it will happen. What follows that?  Ordering via voice.

It won’t be long before you are eating a great steak with your family and are so pleased with the experience that as you clean up dinner you tell Alexa to order more steaks to arrive for Friday night’s meal. (I should make another case for the power of branding here… that will have to wait!)

Yes, there are data privacy concerns. But consumers (me included) keep using this technology because it allows them to operate the way we Americans really like: faster and easier.

Why is this important? Because when Microsoft surveyed 5,000 U.S. consumers about their adoption of voice assistive technology, 94% of respondents said they expect to be able to reach and engage with their favorite brands through digital assistants within the next five years. One hundred percent believe they will be able to scan bar codes and learn more information about a product. (2)

How can you position your business to be part of this technology wave?

Start with your website. Begin planning now to optimize it for voice assisted search. Make it more conversational so that Alexa can match the voice search with an answer on your site. Pay attention to keywords and common questions. Upgrade your search engine optimization. Finally, consider when and where a chat bot might make sense. And keep in mind that voice assistive technology will only continue to develop at a faster clip; new shortcut apps are being released every day that improve third-party functionality. 

Voice assistance is no longer something that happens only in a distant galaxy on a starship, and the meat industry needs to be ready to play in that space. Beam me up, Alexa.

Let’s learn from each other. How are you using voice assistive technology?

(1)Voice Assistant Technology Report,, November 2018

(2) Microsoft Voice Report, 2019


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