Rise Bar wants to do more than just provide delicious protein bars with five ingredients or less. The company’s stated purpose is to “Inspire people to eat simply and to rise above, one simple step at a time.”
Rise Bar is a challenger brand in the multi-billion dollar energy bar segment and laid down a new challenge by being the first in the category to launch a skill for Amazon’s Alexa. The Rise Above skill provides product information, a message from the founder, daily tips for healthy living and will even offer inspirational quotes. Voicebot connected with Rise Bar founder Pete Spenuzza and Pat Higbie from the company’s technology partner XAPPmedia to learn more.
How does Rise Bar differentiate its brand in a very crowded food category?
Pete Spenuzza (Rise Bar): We pride ourselves on creating the simplest protein bars in the market using five ingredients or less while delivering a big protein boost and never compromising on taste. In fact, our best seller, the Almond Honey protein bar is made with just three ingredients – almonds, honey and whey protein and has 20 grams of protein! All Rise Bars are made with real food, are gluten-free, soy-free, peanut-free, preservative-free, non-GMO and never contain artificial ingredients or sweeteners.
What are some of the ways you have typically tried to connect directly with customers or simply market your products?
Spenuzza: We love grassroots marketing and making authentic connections with our customers. We engage in local events, connect directly with our fans on social media and use word of mouth to generate interest and awareness.
What made you decide to launch an Amazon Alexa skill?
Spenuzza: We are always looking for innovative ways to rise above — pun intended — and engage with our customers. By launching the Alexa skill, we are able to support our customer’s healthy lifestyles with tips and inspiration while being the first brand in our category to distribute content via an immersive voice experience. We believe this is the future!
Tell me about what the skill does and what users can do with it?
Spenuzza: Rise Above highlights the essence of our brand, which is to empower people to rise to their fullest potential. Rise Above will help users embrace whole food nutrition and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle one simple step at a time. Rise Above shares Rise Bar’s history, real food ingredient philosophy as well as inspirational daily tips, fitness, nutrition and health content.
How do you expect the Alexa skill to impact your customers or other users that are new to the Rise Bar community?
Spenuzza: We are a fast rising leader in the healthy snacks category and by launching Rise Above, we provide our customers an entirely new way to connect with the brand spontaneously by voice. It also represents a new channel to introduce the brand to a fresh set of consumers.
When designing and building the skill for Rise Bar, what were some of the specific practices you employed to ensure a positive user experience?
Pat Higbie (XAPPmedia): Alexa skills enable profound improvements in convenience for consumers to connect with the brands they love. Our design process is all about pushing the envelope on consumer convenience while giving the brand the ability to tell its story in a new way that takes advantage of the intimacy of conversations. With Rise Bar, we used a participatory design process that included rapid prototyping so the brand manager could experience first hand all the possibilities and constraints of interactive voice experiences with Rise Bar’s own content.
And, we demand the user experience to work well for new users that are using the skill for the first time as well as for experienced users that know exactly what they want — for example, “Alexa, ask Rise Above for a fitness tip.” We used a disciplined design process with Rise Bar to achieve these results. In addition, it was important to give Rise Bar a personality within the skill, which we call a Voice Persona™. The obvious reason for this is that there are no visual design elements in an audio environment with no screen, but there is a more important reason, which is to create an intimacy in the consumer connection. Establishing the voice persona also requires rapid prototyping so the brand manager can pick a voice that aligns with the brand’s image.
Designing an Alexa skill is a creative process in a very new technology medium so we used a process that let Rise Bar share its Rise Above philosophy in a fun and engaging way. Overall, it is a disciplined process complemented by rapid prototyping that armed Rise Bar with a “ready, fire, aim” way to try lots of content and design choices and pick the ones that the brand manager felt would work best for her amazing brand.
What are some of the aspects of the Rise Above skill that might surprise Alexa users?
Higbie: The voice. It’s not Alexa’s voice. The Rise Above voice is warm and friendly and it will help consumers identify with the brand. We call this “Giving Brands a Voice”.
The Rise Bar skill has been in use now for a couple of weeks. What have you learned?
Higbie: People love it! They love the daily tips, the Rise Bar story and the products. Pete and his team understand that customers demand convenience and they identify with the brands they love. Pete’s vision for how to connect with consumers is evident in the Rise Above skill.
Editor’s Note: You can see a video of the new Rise Above Alexa skill by clicking below. Also, you can access the skill directly on your Echo by saying, “Alexa, enable Rise Above.” Let us know what you think.