Box-trolling: Amazon and Coca-Cola home-deliver their futures

I’m always interested in what brands do when you invite them into your home.

Amazon is awesome; the agency I work for does work for Coca-Cola. Which is awesome. Both gave us new ways to buy recently — Amazon via the Alexa software interface on the Echo (which I reviewed here); Coca-Cola via a website that lets you order custom-printed bottles, the latest extension of their “Share a Coke” efforts that tipped off in Australia back in 2011.

Both buy-flows ended in home delivery, and since each represented an opportunity to reward/reinforce a desired purchase-behavior change, I wondered: what would each of these powerful brands do with that chance?

Amazon Echo : O Alexa, where art thou?

I used Amazon’s Echo to order laundry detergent. I’d never ordered laundry detergent via Amazon, so a Bezos-ian algorithm generated a recommendation for Tide, and I went with it. I figured that since (a) Amazon has made no bones about their desire to get into replenishment; (b) Amazon and P&G are experimenting in the innovation space with products like “Dash”; and (c), this was my first voice-driven buy from Alexa, it might be interesting — so many new purchase behaviors! aligned with multiple strategic and business goals! I prepared to have my mind blown.

But Amazon was pure Amazon. Efficiency uber alles, nondescript box, packaging materials haphazardly thrown in.

Love, Amazon-style
Love, Amazon-style

No shipping info. No receipt. No acknowledgement in any way that this “Tide Ultra Mountain Spring Scent Powder Laundry Detergent 68 Loads 95 Oz” was the end result of a romantic foray with Alexa into the future of commerce, Bezos-style. Maybe there were operational issues preventing Amazon from customizing Alexa-driven out-bound shipments, but even the email acknowledgement of the order failed to mention Echo, Alexa or anything new or different. My family, excited to see an Amazon box, scratched their heads at the box of Tide banging around inside, and thought it was a mistaken shipment.

Coca-Cola: Shared the love

Coca-Cola (a company used to having other people put their products in your hands) was the opposite.

I ordered the custom bottles after my youngest son said “Dad, Coca-Cola has names on the bottles, but I never see MY name.”

Coca-Cola says hello
Coca-Cola says hello

Fluid ounce for fluid ounce, I overpaid, but I the experience blew me away. The box was like a present, red and happy and all “share”-y; opening it revealed protective packaging that unfolded like arms going in for a hug; custom bottles with names and a little card inside got the whole family talking.

IMG_2970Coca-Cola goes in for the hug

Look: Alexa is magic, but Amazon only delivered a product.

Coca-Cola is a product, but Coca-Cola delivered magic. And now my kids have those custom bottles sitting beside their beds.

What will your brand do when it’s invited into someone’s home?