Here Comes Dash Wand, An Alexa-Powered Barcode Scanner For Your Kitchen

What Happened
Amazon continues with its master plan of conquering every room of the smart home with the launch of yet another Alexa-powered connected device. The Dash Wand, which the ecommerce giant unveiled on Wednesday night, is a cordless barcode scanner with Alexa integration. Designed specifically for kitchen use with its water-resistant, durable design, it focuses on facilitating grocery shopping from AmazonFresh. Prime members can either push a button and tell Alexa what to add to their shopping cart, like they would with an Amazon Tap. or simply use it to scan a barcode of the item they’d like to repurchase.

Thanks to the full Alexa integration, the Dash Wand also doubles as a smart kitchen aid, capable of finding recipes, converting units of measurement, or even finding nearby restaurants when your own culinary attempt fails. Notably, Amazon is essentially giving out this $20 device for free, as Prime customers will get 20 off their next purchase after registering the device.

What Brands Need To Do
Amazon created a smart home product with an incredibly focused user case – helping people cook. With a water-resistant, durable design, it is designed to be used in the kitchen. From finding recipes to getting the ingredients to setting timers for the oven, Alexa can do it all, making it a super valuable addition to a modern kitchen.

For Amazon, this device serves as a gateway to attract more shoppers to use AmazonFresh, which underscores Amazon’s aggressive push into the grocery market. According to a recent report from Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen, about a quarter of American households currently buy some groceries online, and more than 70% will engage with online food shopping within 10 years. In fact, online grocery sales are expected to hold 20% of the market by 2025. No wonder Amazon is willing to give away Dash Wand for free in exchange of further locking Prime members into its ever-expanding ecosystem.

As Amazon continues to push into the grocery market, it is becoming increasingly crucial for grocery and household CPG brands to make their products available and discoverable through Amazon. For food retail chains, this should come as a wake-up call to invest in ecommerce channels of your own or forge alliances with Amazon rivals that can surface your online services via their competing smart home devices so as to reach grocery shoppers right in their kitchens.


Source: Amazon

Header image courtesy of Amazon’s promotional image

Why Smart Home Appliance Maker Whirlpool Is Buying Recipe Site Yummly

What Happened
Whirlpool, a leading manufacturer of connected home appliances, announced on Thursday that it is acquiring Yummly, a recipe site with personalized recommendations and search. Beyond recipes, Yummly has also partnered with Instacart for one-hour grocery delivery in select cities.

This acquisition will allow Whirlpool to tap into Yummly’s recipe database to enhance its products by, for example, create better Alexa skills for its smart kitchen appliances, which added support for Amazon’s digital voice assistant earlier this year. For example, which the vast library of personalized recipes, the company will be able to make a smart fridge that can offer suggestions for home-cooked meals.

More importantly, perhaps, is the vast amount of user data on food and grocery preferences as well as cooking-related behavioral data that Whirlpool will gain with this acquisition. Whirlpool can apply insights from this data to cater to customers’ kitchen habits better and improve their products accordingly. 

What Brands Need To Do
This acquisition underscores Whirlpool’s commitment to creating connected home appliances with a superior user experience. As one of the world’s largest digital recipe platforms, Yummly boasts more than 20 million registered users, and the user data and cooking-related information that Whirlpool will now have access to will give the company a nice edge as the competition in the smart home space heats up. More brands should be thinking about how they can gain access to relevant consumer data and use it to supercharge your product or service.


Source: TechCrunch

Folgers Coffee To Sponsor A Life-Size Gingerbread House In NYC

What Happened
Folgers Coffee has signed on as a brand sponsor for a life-size gingerbread house created by Taste of Home, a food and entertainment publisher as part of its holiday campaign this year. Previously, the publisher has created digital gingerbread house that readers can navigate on their phones, but this year it is created a life-size gingerbread house installation in New York City starting Tuesday.

The installation comes with some virtual and interactive elements designed to surprise and delight the visitors, who will be greeted by a virtual marshmallow and get to decorate an interactive Christmas tree via a touchscreen. Visitors can also submit their holiday photos to appear on an “America’s Holiday Mantel” display using the hashtag #holidayheritage. Folgers will use those user-generated photos in its ads across Taste of Home’s digital channels.

What Brands Should Do
This is the latest example of brands leveraging sponsorships to connect with event-goers. In September, Taco Bell teamed up with Sony and set up a pop-up VR gaming arcade to attract and engage with consumers. This type of experiential marketing has been gaining traction lately due to the increasingly fractured consumer attention and growing level of ad avoidance. Therefore, more brands should consider striking mutually beneficial partnerships to create memorable experiences for customers.


Source: Marketing Dive

Samsung Puts NFC Stickers in Samsung Coffee Chain

In an effort to increase NFC adoption in Singapore, Samsung has placed NFC stickers in all 51 Singapore outlets of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, prompting users to tap a poster and like the brand’s Facebook page for a free drink upgrade.  The promotion runs until March 7, and is just another part of Singapore’s attempt at building a thriving NFC ecosystem including a nationally standardized touchless payment system.  So far, adoption rates have been low, but perhaps this short promotion with Samsung backing could tip the trend.

McDonald’s Tries QR Codes

Considering the less-than-perfect track record of QR technology, McDonald’s new packaging design may be surprising to some.  The fast food superpower has found a new application for QR codes by placing them on all carry-out bags and fountain soda cups, linking consumers to nutritional information about the food inside. If fast food customers will go out of their way to capture the code, could this breathe new life into QR technology?