If your grandmother was anything like mine — at home in the kitchen with a recipe box full of hand-written cards — she’d just shake her head and sigh at the notion of a robot reciting step-by-step cooking instructions before returning to stirring cookie batter with a wooden spoon. Analog all the way.
But that sci-fi sounding premise has become a reality. The future of recipes boils down to voice.
So says Allrecipes President Stan Pavlovsky, citing a survey in which 71 percent of users said they were very likely to get all of their cooking instruction from a voice assistant in 20 years. He believes Allrecipes is uniquely positioned to lead the voice recipe revolution, and the Seattle-based company does have a pretty significant head start.
That’s partially because adapting to tech trends is in Allrecipes’ DNA, and partially because the company has a special relationship with its neighbor, Amazon. Allrecipes released the first cooking skill for Alexa, the voice-controlled assistant that powers Amazon devices. Last week, Amazon released the Dash Wand with Alexa with an Allrecipes skill available at launch. And today, Allrecipes is launching a new skill designed for the latest addition to Amazon’s gadget lineup: the touch-screen Echo Show.
Allrecipes’ rapid adaptation to each new Amazon product is no coincidence, Pavlovsky says.
“Our product teams get together under a high level of secrecy in planning out our roadmaps for our various brands,” he said. “So we talk to them about what we’re working on. They tell us what they’re working on and we look for opportunities to partner together as it makes sense.”
The Echo Show skill is similar to the existing Allrecipes Alexa skill. Cooks can ask for a recipe that uses the ingredients they have on hand. Alexa guides them through each step of the recipe and responds to commands like “pause, next, repeat,” and “skip.”
What’s new is a series of photos and videos to go along with the audio-guided recipes.
“That’s the beauty of the new Show is that not only are you able to use your voice to pause during individual steps but you can also see a video or see photos as you’re pausing or as you’re telling Alexa to move forward,” Pavlovsky said. “We really feel like, while this device is still centrally focused around voice and not having to use your hands, the visual element is a real complement for this.”
We asked Pavlovsky if Allrecipes’ cozy relationship with Amazon could turn competitive in the wake of the e-commerce giant’s Whole Foods acquisition. Whole Foods does have a robust recipes collection, after all.
“We don’t believe that [Amazon] will be able to compete with us in the space of building great experiences around content just as I don’t think they believe that we are going to necessarily compete with them in building a great retail experience,” he said. “Instead, I think we can complement each other. Our consumers go shopping after looking at our content predominantly within 24 to 48 hours.”
Allrecipes’ evolution has tracked closely with broader digital trends since the dot-com era. The company launched in 1997 as Cookierecipe.com, a cookie recipe site that was part of the new consumer-generated content revolution. The company launched 38 different URLs, dedicated to specific foods, before consolidating into Allrecipes.com. On its 18th birthday, Allrecipes underwent a major makeover into a “food-centric social network,” adapting to consumer preferences around photo and content sharing. Allrecipes says that redesign accomplished the goal of courting millennials but it was also met with some criticism from longtime users.
Shortly thereafter, Allrecipes partnered with Instacart to offer one-hour delivery of grocery items that customers found while browsing through recipes on the platform. Allrecipes also has a “local deals” feature that connects users to retailers and sells sponsored placements to those businesses.
Adapting to shifting consumer trends has helped Allrecipes weather many digital storms since launching during the dot-com boom. Now the company is placing a big bet on voice.
“We want to continue to innovate in the space and we want to continue to be a leader in leveraging technology for our users,” Pavlovsky said.