WW employs Alexa, Google Home to help customers stick with their diet plans

Through integrations with WW's software technologies, members can now ask Alexa or Google Home how many smart points they have left that day, and more.

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Marketers of the weight loss program from WW — the company previously known as Weight Watchers — can now pitch a new angle: voice-managed dieting.

The company launched an Alexa skill and a Google Home Action that are integrated with the wellness program’s software applications to enable customers to follow their diet plans, via their smart speakers.

Easier management. WW wants to “meet members where they are,” said WW VP of Product Management Nic Chikhani. Voice management is part of WW’s brand and digital transformation, he said, and it builds on the company’s research indicating that, as one might expect, the easier it is to follow a diet, the more likely members will do so.

Previously, he said, WW launched a Google Home Action, but it wasn’t integrated with WW’s new Wellow food and weight tracking application or with a custom search and discovery API from French startup Algolia. Wellow, which handles natural language queries, also syncs with a member’s daily record, available through the company’s web site and mobile app.

Understanding “smart points.” Now, a WW subscriber can verbally ask their Google Home or Amazon smart speaker  questions such as:

  • How many “smart points” in a banana?
  • How many points do I have left for today?
  • What are some food choices for dinner, with the points I have left for today?

While a general search engine like Google could find the number of calories in, say, a banana, Chikhani pointed out that Google doesn’t really understand “smart points” or WW’s program. “Smart points” are WW’s measurement of food value, since 100 calories from a cookie is not nutritionally the same as 100 calories from a piece of fruit.

At some point, he said, WW is intending to expand Wellow’s intelligence, such as offering a dinner recipe based on smart points remaining for a given user in that day.

Why you should care. As intelligent voice interfaces like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are moving past the “gee whiz” phase, brands are beginning to understand the ways in which voice interaction might improve their product or service.

In WW’s case, the introduction of voice management could solve an ongoing hurdle for its customers: the work involved in maintaining a diet and exercise routine. If the interaction works smoothly, and management becomes as easy as conversation, the greater accessibility could make it easier for the company’s marketers to convince prospective customers.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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