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UK Insights

What’s so good about conversation?

David Wright

Conversational AI Lead

Social 03.05.2019 / 14:00


Announcements from Facebook suggest a new era of conversational commerce.

Facebook recently finished its annual F8 conference. The overall theme was, unsurprisingly, privacy, but they also talked about creating more tools for direct, one-on-one conversations. 

Furthermore, Facebook is making moves to replicate the mobile commerce model that WeChat has created so successfully. When you visit China, it’s striking that every small business proudly displays WeChat and Alipay symbols at every point of sale. If you want to buy orange juice, or try your luck at winning a fluffy toy from a vending machine, you have to use your mobile phone for payment. It is easy to imagine that Facebook executives are looking at China (and WeChat) with both envy and admiration. However, for world dominance (outside of China), WhatsApp will need extremely complex payment integrations, across many diverse markets – which will be expensive and take time. 

So, at F8, Facebook launched its WhatsApp Product Catalogue. The logic is that many SMEs already use WhatsApp to communicate with their customers, and often they don’t have a website. So instead of creating a website, Product Catalogue in combination with the WhatsApp business app allows you to create a meaningful channel on WhatsApp. This replicates, in a simpler way, the “official” channel approach that has long existed on WeChat. Whereas WeChat allows a brand to create mini apps, which allow for rich and customized HTML app that sit within WeChat, it is likely that Facebook will require brands to exist within a tightly controlled and consistent UI. (This feels reminiscent of the early MySpace versus Facebook battle, when MySpace drowned under glitter and video heavy user-generated design.)

Facebook also announced an update on its WhatsApp payment trial in India. This small trial consists of 1million WhatsApp users. However, Mark Zuckerberg indicated that we should watch this space, and that payment facilities will begin to roll out in other markets. He said that making a payment should be as easy as sending a photo. For WeChat, it is as easy as sending a QR code. 

WhatsApp was not the only focus for conversational commerce, with new appointment tools being added to Facebook Messenger, giving SMEs a seamless way to allow their customers to manage a booking via chat. On Instagram, more tools have been launched to allow influencers to add “shopping tags” to their feeds.

For Facebook this Conversational Commerce strategy, if successfully executed, will open up a sizeable opportunity beyond their usual advertising income revenue model.

At Kantar, we are seeing the power of conversation with our new chatbot research products – allowing our clients to better understand their audience, quickly, as we can reach thousands of consumers via chat and use AI to steer and analyse a real-life conversation. As brands are seeing with commerce, and with marketing, you need to go where your customers are, and remove as much ‘friction’ from each journey as you can. The same is true in research.

Perhaps conversational AI research tools could help brands understand the potential of conversational commerce?



Source : Kantar

Editor's Notes

Find out how your brand can gather more insights more quickly with conversational AI and chatbots from Kantar. Email

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