As consumers remain at home and continue turning to technology for entertainment, engagement and interaction, brands are increasingly rethinking how to engage consumers. For Wild Turkey, that meant exploring new ways to connect by sharing the heritage, history and knowledge that exemplifies this iconic American bourbon brand from the mouths of those who know it best.
Knowing this, Wild Turkey set out on a mission to create the first-ever virtual guided tasting for Amazon Alexa and Google Home, which is voiced by the legendary distillery family – the Russells – and a hidden Easter egg cameo by creative director, Matthew McConaughey. This CX experience is serving as a game changer for at-home virtual tastings going forward.
Q > What is the virtual guided tasting experience and how does it work?
The virtual guided tasting is Wild Turkey’s way of bringing at-home imbibers to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail - a destination that has attracted 2.5 million visitors in the last five years alone.
LDA consumers can activate the guided tasting with a simple command: “Alexa, enable Wild Turkey Tasting” to their Alexa device or, to their Google Assistant device, “Hey Google, talk to Wild Turkey Tasting” to be virtually transported to the Wild Turkey Distillery. The tasting experience will guide users through five different Wild Turkey whiskies featuring actual audio recordings of the Russell family. Users will not only learn about the different styles of Wild Turkey whiskey, but also about the distilling process, the palate, glassware, and more from the masters themselves.
For those who don’t have their favourite Wild Turkey on hand, there is also a general whiskey tasting. And consumers can ask questions from “can I add water to my whiskey?” to “tell me a fun fact about whiskey.” As an additional 'Easter egg' component within the skill, whiskey drinkers can unlock a special message from venerated actor Matthew McConaughey, Wild Turkey’s creative director and the co-creator of Longbranch.
Q > When did the guided tasting launch?
The official launch of the version with the Russells launched in mid-December, 2020.
Q > What does it take to launch a guided tasting experience through a virtual assistant (such as Alexa, Google Home, etc.)
Voicify > Historically ideating and executing voice experience across multiple endpoints (Alexa, Google Assistant, Bixby or a Custom Voicebot) would require a team of strategists, VUXers and developers with expertise and knowledge of each disparate end point. The Voicify platform changes that process by letting the strategy and VUX exist without detailed consideration of end points, instead normalising content management within Voicify and optimising it for what each assistant’s capacities are coupled with the device's multi-modal capabilities.
Havas CX > In partnering with Voicify, we were able to focus our effort on creating a great idea that drives value for the customer with a brand that has license and authority to create this guided tasting. We did not have to overly concern ourselves with the challenges of designing for multiple platforms and device types. Mix that with great talent in experience design, strategy, content development and here we are!
Q > Are there any major differences from an technical or creative standpoint to keep in mind when building a customer experience (CX) for Alexa over Google Assistant?
Voicify > There are many differences not only between Alexa and Google Assistant but also across the devices those assistants (software) are embedded on (hardware). When you think through the differences between speakers, displays, native mobile, TV’s, watches, headphones and an exhaustive array of others in concert with the Assistants the matrix of capabilities becomes challenging to manage. Voicify does this for our customers so they don’t need to concern themselves with those nuances. Voicify optimises the voice experience for the user based on the device they are using and it’s capabilities.
Q > What was Wild Turkey’s / Campari Group’s role in bringing the experience to life?
As consumers continue to stay home and turn to technology for entertainment, engagement and interaction, brands are increasingly rethinking how to engage consumers. For Wild Turkey, that meant exploring new mediums to connect by sharing the heritage, history and knowledge that exemplifies this iconic American brand from the mouths of those who know it best - the Russells. Wild Turkey engaged the Voicify platform and partnered with Havas CX to design and execute the conversational experience, ensuring a seamless fit of the guided tasting into the brand’s broader customer experience.
Part of our digital transformation journey is looking at ways to reach new consumers through technology that is already a part of their daily routine – it’s not meant to disrupt as much as take advantage of the explosive growth of interest in bourbon cocktails and culture.
Coupling our renowned Master Distillers with this burgeoning technology is a way to drive both consumer consideration and eCommerce sales, since a guided tasting works best when you can sample along at home.
Q > What was Havas CX’s role in the development of the tasting experience?
Havas CX > Havas CX was tasked with a test and learn for voice, and was quickly drawn to the opportunity to create an ownable tasting experience because of the rich heritage and quality of Wild Turkey. We had seen their master distillers speak so lovingly and eloquently of their product that we wanted to capture that experience of having an interactive tasting with Jimmy and Eddie Russell. We led the strategy, experience design, content development and technical build of the experience.
Q > What was Voicify’s role in the development of the tasting experience?
Voicify > Voicify is primarily the platform that Havas used to gain efficiency and scalability with their work for the Wild Turkey Voice and other chat experiences. Voicify supported both Campari and Havas with voice and Voicify expertise as needed and requested from both parties.
Q > What makes this virtual tasting experience unique and what do you want consumers to take away from this experience?
Voicify and Havas CX > The guided nature of this experience is rather different than most one-level voice experiences that deliver simple answers to user questions. Users can choose a specific Wild Turkey product and then follow that path all the way through from the nose and the color of the liquid through to the finish. Based on the user’s responses, the content changes and different elements are highlighted. Additionally, we included actual recorded audio of the distillers mixed with the native assistant to deliver an experience that feels warm and personal but still native to the devices. It’s the closest you can get to a visit to Lawrenceburg as long as the distillery is closed to visitors due to the pandemic.
Q > Are there any plans to update the experience going forward?
We’re always looking at ways to engage our consumers in unique and unexpected ways and we see that practice continuing in 2021 and beyond. As the virtual world and smart speaker technology continues to evolve and change, we’ll look to adapt, expand and ensure the Wild Turkey Tasting experience is adapting as well.
Q > What market forces make this experience perfect now?
The pandemic upended many peoples’ routines and accelerated cultural changes, including increased time at home, increased reliance on and interaction with digital devices, and social distancing that has significantly limited immersive experiences.
Bourbon is a true sensorial experience. However, as travel to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail isn’t a reality for many right now, Wild Turkey is meeting consumers where they are - evermore on their digital devices like Alexa and Google Home - to bring a formerly in-person, travel experience into the comfort of their homes. Unlike other whiskey-focused smart speaker skills that simply share recipes, the Wild Turkey Tasting is uniquely multi-dimensional, channeling the perspectives and authenticity of the Russell family straight from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.
Q > How has the voice market evolved in a way that supports this effort?
Voicify > For years the adoption of voice interfaces has been climbing exponentially, first with speakers, then with smart displays & native mobile apps, and now assistants embedded in home electronics. In 2020 the pandemic pushed that acceleration even faster with new home and social behaviours emerging and expanding. While the Wild Turkey tasting experience was in motion in advance of the pandemic it showcases the ability for the brand to supplement their experiences in ways meaningful and available to their end consumers.