Google’s First Voice Activated Coupon

By Joe Egan, SHOP + Lead, Mindshare WW

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This week Google distributed its first voice-activated coupon offering customers $15 off Target purchases placed on Google Express through Google Assistant –through desktop, mobile or Google Assistant enabled devices.

Details and Implications:

In a first-to-market partnership with Target a voice activated coupon was used by Google to drive adoption of both Voice Search and Google Express: a universal shopping cart that allows purchases from multiple retailers within a single checkout.

To redeem the coupon customers using Google Home or devices with Google Assistant simply had to say, ‘Spring into Target’ to activate $15 off Target purchases exclusively on Google Express.

As with all test there were some kinks to iron out. Some customers experienced problems with Google Assistant misunderstanding ‘into’ and ‘in to’, so had to resort to typing the promo phrase to receive their coupon.

According to Target, the promotion was a success and though no specific ROI metrics were mentioned, ‘goals were met, and they were met early’.

“Target and Google teams are working on the next chapter, building experiences that digitally replicate the joy of shopping a Target store to discover stylish and affordable products,” said Target’s chief information and digital officer, Mike McNamara.

In the US, Amazon Echo has more than twice the penetration of Google Home (13.9% vs. 5.9%, Kantar WorldPanel), however, Google is positioning itself to become a market leader in Voice Commerce given the penetration of Android Smartphones there (62%, Kantar WorldPanel). Though it must be noted that Google Assistant only runs on the Marshmallow OS and above (52% of the 62% of Android users have access to Google Assistant).

It is yet another example of Google trying to provide retailers a scaled alternative to Amazon. The early rush to of more established retailers like Walmart, Target and Walgreens towards Google Express, gives the appearance of a coalition of sorts to challenge the dominance of Amazon. Whereas Amazon is notoriously guarded with consumer data, Google requires users to link their loyalty programs, which will allow results to be personalized by the retailers based on their existing consumer data.


With the distribution of the first voice-activated coupon within the Google ecosystem, Google will now be looking for ways to incentivize more retailers to join the trend. The results seem to have been overwhelmingly positive, aside from the odd technical snag, so we would expect others to venture where Target has blazed the trail.

In much the same way as Amazon is actively encouraging Voice Search by heavily discounting its range of voice enabled devices in a land grab for the home, Google is similarly incentivizing a behavior it wishes to encourage. It’s proof that both are betting heavily on the future of Voice and AI at the risk of short-term revenue. ‘Google it’ became the vernacular for search but what it will be for voice search and commerce is still up for grabs. 

Further Reading:

Marketing Dive / Chief Marketer / CNBC / AdWeek/