The Future of Sound + Voice: Consumer Goods

With the dominance of ecommerce and influence of social media on retail, sound can enhance CPG brand messaging and experiences

Brands in the consumer goods sector already have multiple ways to connect — from TV commercials and paid digital media to outdoor advertising and experiential marketing, branded content, pop-ups and event partnerships, in-store retail and ecommerce. As brick-and-mortar business continues to shrink due to the prominence of ecommerce, CPG brands have had to rethink their approach to sales and marketing, meeting consumers wherever they are. Increasingly, the answer has been to make the connection more experiential, and sound can help support more immersive brand engagement across channels and touchpoints.

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CPG brands have used sound to support their messaging for decades, with jingles as an early form of sonic branding that uses catchy melodies to capture attention and create a memorable brand association or call to action. Jingles have evolved over time, morphing into a more diverse and subtle range of branded sounds, including sound mnemonics or logos and earcons (icons for the ear). Shorter in duration, these sounds are designed to have impact across a variety of content formats, particularly in social media where ads often run under 15 seconds. Creating a very short yet distinct and recognizable brand sound not only has utility within the limited time of paid media, but also within product experiences such as mobile and voice apps where sound can cue users to the information they need or provide confirmation for purchases.

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The rise of voice-enabled technology shows great promise for the CPG sector as well, with 66% of voice assistant adopters using the tech for weekly grocery planning (5) and 31% of US smart speaker owners ordering groceries via voice. (6) With voice shopping projected to reach $40 billion by 2022, (7) brands need to have a consistent sound identity to stand out within this expanding retail territory.

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Procter & Gamble is one brand looking to understand these emerging consumer behaviors by launching voice apps such as Tide’s Alexa skill that provides instructions for over 200 laundry questions. Campbell’s and Patrón have launched skills that offer recipes and tips for preparing meals and drinks with whatever ingredients are on hand. Voice apps are a natural fit for CPG brands to show up as a trusted expert, providing useful information to consumers while building brand loyalty and good word of mouth.

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The range of consumer touchpoints where sound and voice could play a role continues to expand. Direct-to-consumer brands such as Casper, Everlane, and Allbirds are opening pop-ups and showrooms, bringing ecommerce insights to brick-and-mortar retail. Apparel and footwear brands are beginning to experiment with augmented and virtual reality technology to allow consumers to digitally try on and share their looks on social media. Shoppable content on social, particularly Instagram, has become a major revenue stream for online retailers, with overall social commerce sales projected to hit $29 billion in 2020. (13) Changing consumer expectations as a result of online shopping behaviors are forcing brands to innovate in order to engage consumers.

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A strategic and consistently deployed sound identity across digital and in-store retail — encompassing sound logos, product sounds, voice, and music — can help brands achieve a more immersive experience that meets the expectations of today’s connected consumer.

“Voice technology is an important emerging opportunity, particularly as technology companies are offering more ways to use voice and improving the user experience. As voice grows in users and applications, we’ll be positioned to grow, as well.” — Tressie Rose, Associate Director, Media Relations & Social Media, Global Company Communications, Procter & Gamble (14)

Written by Paul Amitai, Executive Strategy Director
Published June 2020



References
(1) Global Web Index, 2019.
(2) "Global Consumer Insights Survey," PwC, 2019.
(3) "Voice Shopping Set to Jump to $40 Billion By 2022, Rising From $2 Billion Today," OC&C Strategy Consultants (Feb 28 2018).
(4) "Purchases Via Smart Speakers Are Not Taking Off," eMarketer, 2020.
(5) "Think With Google," Consumer Insights, 2018.
(6) "Consumer Intelligence Series: Prepare for the voice revolution," PwC, 2018.
(7) "Voice Shopping Set to Jump to $40 Billion By 2022, Rising From $2 Billion Today," OC&C Strategy Consultants (Feb 28 2018).
(8) "Consumer Intelligence Series: Prepare for the Voice Revolution," PwC, 2018.
(9) "Voice Shopping Set to Jump to $40 Billion By 2022, Rising From $2 Billion Today," OC&C Strategy Consultants (Feb 28 2018).
(10) "How Big Tech Is Battling To Own The $49B Voice Market," CB Insights, 2019.
(11) "Smart Speaker Use Case Frequency," Voicebot, 2019.
(12) "Voice Shopping Set to Jump to $40 Billion By 2022, Rising From $2 Billion Today," OC&C Strategy Consultants (Feb 28 2018).
(13) "The Social Commerce Report," Business Insider Intelligence, 2019.
(14) Daniels, Chris, “Why brands are just finding their voice with Alexa and its competitors,” PR Week (Aug 10, 2018).


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