For Its First EV, Kia Joins Growing Wave of Brands Using Chatbots


Kia NiroBot

Kia is doing something really new for the brand: introducing its first electric hybrid vehicle. So the automaker has decided to do something pretty new for the industry: using a chatbot.

Kia has launched NiroBot, a new bot for Facebook Messenger, to deliver instant access to comprehensive product information for the 2017 Niro hybrid utility vehicle, which will begin arriving in showrooms soon.

The gambit is part of a growing wave of brands using chatbots, which USA Today defines as “a largely automated, interactive experience that assists consumers with questions and sells them goods and services.”

Earlier this month, for instance, Twitter announced that it will launch it own chatbot, which already is being used by Pizza Hut, Spotify, Tesco, Evernote and other brands. And Uber users can hail a cab via chatbot. Meanwhile, Staples, Mastercard and Bank of America are just a few of the brands that have launched bots in recent months.

“Where brands were once defined by their visual expression and human interaction, we’re now entering a stage where brands also will be defined through digital voice,” said Dylan Stuart, partner at Lippincott, a creative consulting firm. “As chatbots cross the digital divide from transactions to relationships, the face and nature of branding is evolving.”

Facebook is now selling ads on the popular messaging service to brands that can reach people they’ve interacted with, routing Facebook users to Messenger. People who have started conversations with brands on Messenger will be invited to “converse” with a chatbot.

Of course, Facebook’s announcement came in the midst of flack that it has been getting after the social network admitted that it had discovered some bugs and errors in its system that led it to misreport ad metric numbers across some of its products.

Moving ahead, Messenger now works on Android Auto, meaning that users will be able to listen to and reply to texts from friends on Messenger using voice commands.

For Kia, the NiroBot on Messenger will allow the brand to “talk” with consumers about comprehensive information about the new EV, interior and exterior galleries, multimedia product overviews and the ability to schedule a test drive.

“Kicking off our pre-launch strategy by breaking new ground with our bot for Messenger [will] make the new-car research process much easier and more efficient for shoppers,” Kimberley Gardiner, director of marketing for Kia Motors America, said in a news press release.

“The user-friendly interface combines the experience of being in a showroom with the convenience and mobility today’s car buyers are looking for as users interact with the NiroBot at their own pace and focus on the specific areas that interest them most.”