- Snack brand MoonPie this month introduced a voice-powered app for Amazon Alexa that acts as a virtual roommate for people stuck indoors during the coronavirus pandemic. MoonPie's MoonMate can answer questions and hold lengthy conversations about a range of topics, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- To mimic being a roommate, MoonMate can offer to pay rent in the form of MoonPies, avoid doing household chores and keep Alexa users entertained with conversations. It also can provide facts about MoonPie, the marshmallow sandwiches made by family-owned Chattanooga Bakery.
- Users of Alexa-enabled devices can start talking to the virtual roommate by saying, "Alexa, launch MoonPie MoonMate." Chattanooga Bakery worked with ad agency Tombras on the voice-powered MoonMate skill, per the announcement.
MoonPie's virtual roommate is notable for extending the snack brand's identity to a voice-powered platform three years after establishing a foothold in social media with its quirky Twitter persona that has more than 300,000 followers. With most consumers stuck at home during the pandemic, MoonPie is offering some lighthearted entertainment that's consistent with the offbeat character of its social media presence that has received accolades for helping to boost sales.
While the pandemic has spurred more brands to take a more serious tone that matches the public mood, MoonPie is mixing levity with empathy to engage those homebound consumers.
You’re never alone when you’re alone with MoonPie MoonMate pic.twitter.com/nGf88wszql— MoonPie MoonMate (@MoonPie) May 5, 2020
Ad agency Tombras, which runs the MoonPie account on Twitter, developed the skill for Alexa to make it sound more human while also poking fun at voice-powered platforms and chatbots. When the skill doesn't understand what someone is saying, MoonMate doesn't respond with a canned answer such as, "Sorry, didn't catch that." Instead, the MoonMate acts like it's distracted by another topic or blames software developers for the technology's shortcomings, Ad Age reported. MoonMate is currently available for Alexa, but Tombras plans to create a version for Google Assistant, per Ad Age.
By creating a skill for Alexa-powered devices, MoonPie can reach consumers among the most popular brand of smart speakers in the U.S. Amazon is the market leader with a 53% share of smart speaker households, ahead of Google at 31%, Sonos at 4.7% and Apple at 2.8%, per a study by Voicebot Research. Amazon's share is down from 61%, amid the growth for Google from 24% in the prior year. Despite the decline in market share, Amazon added about 6 million users in 2019 and sold more Echo smart speakers to pre-existing customers, giving the e-commerce giant a broad platform to sell more smart home devices.
MoonPie is among the companies that have developed voice-powered experiences for Alexa to extend their reach across the growing user base of connected devices such as smart speakers, displays and mobile devices. Procter & Gamble's Herbal Essences in October introduced a voice app for Alexa that aims to help people learn more about its products and get assistance if they have impaired vision. Nabisco's Oreo brand last year released a feature that let people ask Alexa about the sandwich cookie's latest news and flavors without needing to download a dedicated skill. Athletic brand Reebok also ran a campaign on voice-powered platforms to give away limited-edition sneakers, demonstrating how brands can use voice tech to engage consumers.