Patron turns Amazon’s Alexa into customers’ own personal bartender

Craving a frozen margarita? Just turn on your Amazon Echo and ask Alexa for the recipe.

Tequila brand Patrón is launching on Amazon’s smart speaker Echo. Users can ask Echo’s Alexa Voice Service for anything from trending cocktails to facts about tequila. The launch coincides with “National Tequila Day” this Sunday.

“Patrón has tremendous brand equity, recognition and swagger, but we also have a lot of substance and versatility,” Patrón’s CMO Lee Applbaum said. “We felt that Amazon Echo was a great starting point for us to be able to showcase our artisanal spirit and versatility and begin to have a conversation with our fans in a way that was most natural for them: voice.”

Alexa lets people interact with Echo using voice commands. When it first launched in late 2014, Echo’s capabilities were limited to letting people order products from Amazon. But since then, it’s become a platform in its own right. For example, users can ask Alexa to stream music on-demand via Spotify and order a ride via Uber.

With Patrón, you can treat Alexa like a bartender. Ask her for a spicy cocktail recipe, and she might suggest the “Jalapeño Margarita,” along with instructions on how to make it and facts about tequila. She can also get cheeky. Ask her if you should drink more and she’ll reply promptly, “As long as you’re not driving…or texting an ex.”

The recipes are also housed in Patrón Cocktail Lab, an interactive cocktail recommendation site for desktop and mobile. The site, like Alexa, was developed by Razorfish. Users answer a few questions about their flavor preferences in order to get recommendations. They can also save drinks to their profiles, print recipe cards, watch how-to videos and follow favorite bartenders.

Patrón has been increasing its digital efforts in recent years, and the Amazon Echo activation is aimed at underscoring how innovative the brand is, said Applbaum. Last summer, for example, Patrón launched “The Art of Patrón Virtual Reality Experience,” which let consumers take a virtual tour of the Hacienda Patrón in Jalisco. The brand used Oculus Rift technology and combined drone-recorded and live-action video to take viewers through its production process, from the point of view of a bee. Applbaum declined to give specifics, but said that the brand has set “aggressive target numbers” to track visitation and engagement.

“It’s not about eyeballs,” he said. “We want to make sure they are sharing and creating and expect substantial growth of the platform over time.”

Consumer-aimed voice recognition services like Alexa demonstrate how fast artificial intelligence is making inroads into marketing, said Forrester analyst Thomas Husson. More brands are trying to automate their interactions with consumers and use data to make marketing decisions that were previously made by humans. It’s smart for brands to start testing and learning so they can differentiate themselves as the reach of these services grows, he said.

While Patrón is currently only on Amazon Echo, it is also testing out other voice platforms like iOS’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

“We will continue to seamlessly deliver content to people the way they want it,” said Applbaum. “Alexa is just the beginning.”

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