Beef checkoff targets consumer with ‘Chuck Knows Beef’ virtual assistant
As consumers become increasingly tech savvy, the beef industry is following suit with its latest innovation, “Chuck Knows Beef.”
“This new technology is being developed by the beef checkoff and is directed at the national consumer,” describes Ann Wittmann of the Wyoming Beef Council.
“We know that the consumers’ needs haven’t really changed in the last 20 years,” Wittmann noted. “They want a safe, convenient product that is wholesome. What is changing, though, is how they’re finding that information.”
Where consumers used to refer to experts behind the butcher counter to answer their protein-related questions, Wittmann continued consumer behavior is changing fast, and the beef industry must be proactive.
“Consumers are now subscribing to receive products online that they don’t have to shop for. They’re ordering dinner through online meal kits that are shipped directly to their door,” she said. “We’ve seen a change from ‘going shopping’ to ‘always shopping,’ and we need to be in their hands and in their shopping carts, whether that is online or in the store.”
The beef checkoff’s answer is “Chuck Knows Beef.”
Chuck Knows Beef
“Chuck is an all-knowing beef expert powered by Google artificial intelligence,” Wittmann said. “Chuck has the know-how of a rancher, the skills of a chef and the sense of humor of a dad.”
Chuck is available online or through Alexa and other in-home smart devices.
“On our phones, we have apps. On our smart home devices, these are called skills. Chuck is a skill that can be loaded onto devices, and then we can ask him questions,” Wittmann said.
Chuck draws on the beef checkoff’s expansive database of beef council websites to create a huge database that he draws from to answer questions, including finding recipes and answering questions about beef production.
“We can ask Chuck how beef are raised and fed. We can ask for recipes, and we can even ask what his favorite song or color is,” Wittmann commented.
Today, Chuck is in a soft launch stage where developers are working to continue training and testing Chuck to ensure he has the skills to answer consumers’ questions.
“Chuck is a baby right now. He gives some crazy answers, but we’re trying to train Chuck,” Wittmann said. “I’ve had to remind myself that Chuck is a child in the development process. We can’t get mad at kids for not knowing things.”
As he continues to learn, Chuck will also see a few other changes.
Currently, Chuck has the high, feminine voice of Alexa, but developers are working on creating a custom voice. Chuck will be one of the first skills to have its own voice.
In the big picture, Wittmann noted that state beef councils will begin reaching out to retailers to have Chuck available at the retail counter as a resource for consumers.
“We will use an Amazon Dot packaged in a skin that looks like a hamburger,” she explained. “Consumers will be able to ask Chuck Knows Beef questions about the meat at the retail counter.”
While not in grocery stores, Chuck is available through the internet from a cell phone or computer browser. He can be launched through the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” home page.
“Chuck has an easy guide for users to get started, too,” Wittmann commented.
Continue to grow
“As Chuck develops, he learns when we ask him questions,” Wittmann described. “We encourage beef producers to use Chuck if they have a smart device. We need as much information as we possibly can find to help Chuck get smarter and answer questions better.”
Wittmann said the hard launch for Chuck will be in February 2019, and Oklahoma Beef Council provided funds to allow the theme song, Aaron Copeland’s Rodeo, to be utilized by Chuck.
“Chuck is all-beef-knowing, easily accessible and powered by Google artificial intelligence,” Wittmann said. “He’s constantly learning, with a fun personality.”
She emphasized, “The ability and potential for Chuck is phenomenal.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.