Is It Time to Welcome Smart Home Assistants to Our…Couponing?


Smart home assistants can do it all, including, apparently, save you money.

As companies are starting to strategize on how to show up in voice search results, some companies are rewriting the game through voice-activated coupons. The companies behind this promotion are – no surprise – Target and Google. Who else but these two powerhouses to help launch the future of couponing?

If you’re wondering what the heck voice-activated coupons are, allow me to give you some background. Voice search is nothing new; it’s been around for years in the form of Siri and Google Assistant. Voice search was originally used on mobile devices, to do things like text and call people hands-free, and to activate simple web searches. Lots of fun was had finding the easter eggs that companies had hidden, and also asking bizarre questions – like where to bury a body – and actually getting an answer.

Today, voice search still works on phones, but is more widely talked about in terms of its use with smart home speakers. As these devices are gaining popularity and being used in more and more homes, businesses are trying to figure out how to maximize their potential. Customers are, for the most part, over the introductory hump of smart home speakers, and now is the time for the industry to start experimenting on how to expand the shopping scope. Amazon has done promotions that include discounted prices when shopping on Amazon through their assistant, Alexa, but that seems like a no-brainer since Amazon is both the retailer and the speaker manufacturer.

Google, however, is finding creative and effective ways to compete with Amazon through its voice search couponing partnerships. Google might not have the retail business that Amazon does, but what it does have is all of Amazon’s competitors, ready to try new and exciting methods to keep their customers loyal.

Voice search shopping promotion is a fairly uncharted marketing tactic, but Target and Google’s recent pairing tell a story of a voice shopping promotion-filled future. The promotion is great for each brand: Target gets a sales boost; Google Assistant shows it can do more than just play music and tell jokes.

Here’s what the brands did together: a coupon good for up to $15 in savings from Target was made available to those that shopped through Google Express. To activate the coupon, shoppers had to type or say a specific phrase using their Google Assistant. While the promotion was an overall success, some people did report that their Google Assistant misheard them and as a result they were unable to activate their coupon. As far as we’ve come with technology, there are always little reminders that we have a ways to go.

If you missed out on this promotion, don’t worry; judging from the positive experience both Target and Google had it is likely there will be many more of these to come. This campaign was just one in what will surely be a new wave of marketing promotion techniques to hit consumers where they spend their time: with their technology.