Nutella-maker Ferrero is trying out voice commerce.

The advertiser is one of the first in the U.S. to use the “send me a sample” application, which delivers a free sample-sized jar of its Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread to people who have it installed in either their Amazon or Google voice assistants. Whenever someone repeats the “send a sample” phrase followed by the name of the brand, an order is made by the app, which pulls delivery information either from the Amazon or Google account linked to the voice assistant.

Diageo used the app in the U.K., last year, and whereas Diageo was experimenting with calls to action and aspects of sonic branding, Nutella wants to use the intel to gauge whether voice could be the commerce driver it anticipates.

Should enough deliveries come via the app — Diageo’s trial had more than 6,000 requests in its first week — then Nutella will explore other options, said Ferrero’s head of e-commerce in the U.S. Rachel Tetreault, who said voice search could be something it looks into later this year.

CPG advertisers haven’t been the quickest to explore marketing via voice assistants in the way other verticals have, in part because there’s a worry it could do more harm than good. With Amazon, for example, there’s a growing worry that the Alexa personal assistant in its Echo smart speakers will aid the online marketplace’s attempt to learn what products and categories are most profitable before introducing its own alternatives.

Ferrero doesn’t believe advertisers can afford to have that view — not when so much commerce is moving online. Indeed, 5 percent of consumers use voice shopping now, but that number could reach 50 percent by 2022, per research firm MoffettNathanson.

“Voice is getting traction with consumers, and it’s only a matter of time before it plays a bigger impact on the customer journey, particularly as more grocery sales migrate online,” said Tetreault. “According to our forecasts, this shift will be more noticeable over the next three to five years.”

In China, for example, online sales account for 15 percent of Ferrero’s annual sales there. Tetreault would not give comparative figures for the U.S. but did say a jump in online sales had pushed it to rethink its relationships with tech partners like Amazon and existing deals with supermarkets. “We’re building strong relationships with platforms like Amazon and Google but that’s not going to be at the expense of our retail partners who are also doing more to understand that customer journey online.”

The best way for CPG advertisers to get their foot in the door is by developing voice apps now to cater for the user behavior of the future, said Steff Preyer, business director at voice-based marketing agency Rabbit and Pork. “The user behavior data collected over time will determine how you can continually enhance and improve the voice shopping experience.”

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