How Consumers Used Amazon Alexa This Thanksgiving

Amazon Alexa

As adoption of voice-controlled devices continues to grow, the Echo Dot and Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote were the best-selling products on Amazon across all categories during the Black Friday holiday shopping weekend, Amazon reported — and what’s more, consumers who already own Alexa-enabled devices turned to their intelligent assistant for a higher number of tasks than average during Thanksgiving week.

While the e-commerce giant did not provide exact sales figures, the company announced that the period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday comprised its “best-ever holiday shopping weekend for devices” with millions sold.

“Customers purchased millions of Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices this weekend, and Alexa devices were the top sellers across all of Amazon,” said Dave Limp, SVP, Amazon Devices & Services. “We’re excited that tens of millions of customers around the world will be using Alexa to prepare for the holidays.”

Alexa, Tell Me When The Turkey’s Done

Customers reliance on Alexa devices to power a diversity of activities during Thanksgiving is perhaps an even stronger sign of voice-controlled device adoption than the flurry of device purchases: Customers reportedly asked Alexa to set nearly twice as many timers on Thanksgiving Day than on any other day.

Unsurprisingly, customers also asked Alexa for Thanksgiving recipes, and they had their intelligent assistant stream “Best of Prime Music” as well as holiday tunes throughout the week.

And while turkey day is now behind us, all of this activity should serve to remind marketers of the role voice-controlled devices and voice search are set to play over the next holidays in just a few short weeks — as well as get them thinking about their voice strategy for 2018.

This means that it pays for brands to think about building out skills for Alexa, Cortana, and more — but only if they have a concrete reason, and if they consistently update and optimize: As Jared Belsky, president of 360i pointed out at this month’s Ad Age Next conference, “there’s a zombie skill graveyard already developing. [Too many marketers] went out and built one, but without a discovery strategy.”

In other words, a “cool” voice skill won’t lead to greater brand loyalty — or to a purchase — if it isn’t both easily discoverable and optimized/updated to keep users coming back, rather than abandoning the skill after one or two uses. In an increasingly voice-first world, brands need both a paid strategy and an SEO strategy.

“Brands have to focus on discoverability, or else it’s 2011 all over again — people building apps with no strategy for how people would find and use them,” said Doug Robinson, CEO of Fresh Digital Group. “And have a voice strategy [specifically]: Don’t build something just because someone said ‘quick, let’s build an Alexa skill.’”