Allrecipes Alexa Skill Traffic Up 67% and Unique Users Rise 80% During Coronavirus Quarantine in the U.S.

The coronavirus pandemic has had profound changes in U.S. as it has elsewhere. Most of the focus has been on what people are not doing–or doing less of–because they are stuck at home. However, cooking, and looking up recipes, has risen quickly since stay-at-home policies were implemented in the U.S. Meredith Corp’s Allrecipes Alexa skill sessions are up 67% Over the past 30 days. Unique users has risen 80% during the same period with first-time users up 45%. Rachel Reed, senior innovation manager at Meredith Corp, commented:

“We’ve seen a big uptick in [Alexa skill] usage since most Americans have been following stay-at-home orders…The week of March 22, as the reality of our new normal was starting to sink in, we saw nearly double the number of new users enable the Allrecipes Skill than we saw in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, which is historically the highest traffic period of the year.”

This seems like a logical outcome precipitated by closing all restaurants or only allowing take-out. The inconvenience of going out for a meal, even for take-out, is leading more people to cook at home. Given that most people have a limited repertoire of dishes they cook and now lack the variety of eating frequently at restaurants, it makes sense that they would be looking to learn new recipes to prepare. Allrecipes Alexa skill is benefitting both from people being at home more and looking for more variety in their cuisine.

Similar Rise on Alexa as on the Web also saw a comparable rise during the same period. Pageviews on the website were up 60% over the previous 30 days and sessions rose 70%. This is an interesting set of statistics. Recipe use on the internet is a mature use case. It is clearly a new behavior to look up recipes on a smart speaker but the increase in usage is the same. And, Reed says the trends are similar as well. The Alexa experience looks a lot like the behavior online. It suggests that consumers are fully integrating smart speakers into their lives just as they did earlier with the web.

Searches by Ingredients Rise

Reed also said that how users are interacting with the Allrecipes skill has changed under the coronavirus stay-at-home policies. Users are looking to optimize the use of what they have at home instead of simply exploring news recipes. This had led to a 4x increase in the ratio of searches by ingredient as opposed to by recipe or cuisine.

“Normally, when a user enters the skill they search by cuisine type or dish name, and less than 10% of searches are by ingredient. Over the past 30 days of quarantine, however, close to 40% of users are beginning the experience searching by ingredient. People are changing the way they’re cooking — no one wants to waste the food they have on hand and their options may be limited.”

Analyzing Data to Optimize User Experience

Allrecipes has already employed these new insights to make changes to the Alexa skill. Reed said, “Everything we do we want to be data-driven. There are some immediate actions we can take. Cookies, brownies, and cakes have consistently been in the top 5 recipes surfaced over the past 30 days…The uptick in dessert searches led us to directly add more dessert recipes to the skill.

“We can also create more of a sense of community by telling users that banana bread was the most requested recipe of the week. On our Allstars are uploading recipes to the site, reviewing recipes, and interacting with each other. We are looking to bring that sense of community to the Alexa skill over time.”

A Breakout Moment for Smart Speaker Experiences?

Streaming music, radio, and some games are all seeing a rise in voice app usage during the government imposed stay-at-home directives. Consumers are at home more and the devices are there for use when people might otherwise be at work, the gym, or a restaurant. This period may be further solidifying habits such as music listening through smart speakers and creating new ones such as asking Allrecipes for dinner ideas.

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