She's been around for just over three years, and many of us are already on a first name basis with Alexa, Amazon's voice assistant. According to VoiceLabs, over 33 million voice-first devices (think Amazon Echo or Google Home) are in circulation in the US, enabling users to use one of Alexa's 25,000 skills (or one of the hundreds of Google Actions) to get answers, turn on devices, or even just order paper towels by asking.

This goes beyond re-ordering paper towels--as convenient as Alexa makes that. Savvy brands are getting in on this marketing trend with their own content-based skills to continue the conversation--literally--with consumers.

Currently, there's no way to sponsor products on Echo devices (let's see how long that lasts...), so it's all about creating a skill that is genuinely resourceful for voice users. These brands have nailed it with their simple--but genius--skills.

Tide

Coffee mishap on the way out of the door? That's just one of the 200 stains that Tide's Stain Remover skill will help you remove. Offering step-by-step instructions for every type of stain, this hands-free skill is especially useful when your hands are busy, say, blotting an ink spot away. A resource we all (unfortunately) need at some point, this skill keeps Tide top of mind as the stain removal expert.

Campbell's

You wouldn't necessarily associate "Campbell's" with "tech pioneer," but the mm! mm! good brand was the first consumer brand to the market with a skill. Campbell's Kitchen helps Alexa users plan and prepare dinners--including emailing recipes and shopping lists. New to the app? An interactive touchscreen component compatible with Echo Show.

Patron

Is that recipe you're looking for of the cocktail variety? Ask Patron serves up cocktail recipes (tequila, of course), bartending tips, and fun facts about the liquor. It even helps you concoct something delicious (or, at least drinkable) with the ingredients you have on hand, or recommends a libation based on the weather. The Alexa skill is part of the brand's larger Cocktail Lab initiative that brings this recommendation engine to desktop and mobile platforms as well.

Zyrtec

Allergy medicine Zyrtec created a daily resource with the Your Daily AllergyCast skill. It's like a weather app, but with added information for allergy sufferers, like a pollen count forecast local to the user's area. Taking feedback from users, this skill also provides a personalized Allergy Impact score, letting each user know how the environmental factors will hit them (a good indicator of when it's time to reach for the Zyrtec).

Purina

Ask Purina wants to help people find the dogs that are perfect for them (ideally ones that eat plenty of dog food). Aspiring dog owners--or current dog owners who want to learn more about their furry friends--can ask for information about specific dog breeds, or get answers to questions like "what kind of dogs are good with kids?" or "what dogs shed the least?" But what about those especially messy dogs? Sounds like an Ask Purina and Tide Stain Remover skills partnership waiting to happen.

Published on: Feb 12, 2018