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By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

February 19, 2020 | 4 min read

Facing tough competition to gain the attention of technologically savvy young parents, Yili-owned baby milk formula brand JinLingGuan (JLG) decided to make its own smart speaker, aimed entirely at parents.

Working with Mindshare in China, the brand established that the smart speaker trend was gaining enough pace that it was the perfect opportunity to create a service that helps young parents with advice. Instead of using traditional advertising, it created a utility for young parents, who increasingly seek advice from the internet instead of friends or family.

According to Mindshare, 62.5% of young parents in China worry they are not good enough for their children, while more than 70% of mothers experience postpartum anxiety.

JLG worked with Xiaomi’s MI smart speaker, putting over 1,200 questions into the bespoke speakers, alongside information from only scientifically backed resources. Rather than promote its own products, the speaker said “Answers provided by research experts at JLG” to give brand recall.

A limited number of the speakers were gifted with a purchase of more than a month’s worth of product, while anyone with a MI speaker could also access the content.

Yin Ping, senior media planning manager of Yili Milk Powder Department, says, “The success of this campaign clearly demonstrated how brands can leverage voice technology to interact and communicate on a more personal level – in our case, with young parents. This sets a precedent for the unlimited opportunities of working with smart technology – in our view, this first campaign represents only the tip of the iceberg; our ability to apply JinLingGuan’s 17 years’ of research and marry this with AI means that the possibilities looking ahead are limitless.”

In terms of results, the activity drove over 55 million Q&A sessions, 210% more than expected, according to Mindshare. Importantly, the collaboration drove over USD$2.2m (RMB¥15m) in sales and all 10,000 gift sets sold out.

“The sheer success of the results surprised us,” adds Ping, “ While we expected it to go down well with modern parents in China, we underestimated just how fast both this technology has developed, as well as the popularity and ease with which parents interacted; the interaction rate was much higher than expected.”

The success of the project has also driven interest from Yili to look at how technology collaborations could be used to drive further interactions with consumers.

Qirong Li , associate planning director at Mindshare China, who leads the JLG account, says, “Having now set a clear precedent of just how successful a co-operation with smart technology can be, we will be in a much better and more confident position to create new, provocative experiences for our brands/customers via AI technology, and promote the adoption of these technologies where they can create innovative, first-in-market opportunities. We will try to extend this AI co-operation, from looking at branded content on smart TVs and wearables to utilizing voice and gesture recognition technology, as well as pedometer and health monitoring technology, to not only create better user experiences but more personally-tailored recommendations to parents."

For many in the industry, smart speakers are a defining trend for this year, while others remain unconvinced that the trend has reached the mainstream yet.

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