Capitalise on AI but make sure to take consumers with you
Artificial intelligence is entering the mainstream and brands are using it in a variety of ways. But, says Kevin Joyner, Director of Data Strategy at Croud, while brands should be confident about using AI in their businesses, they shouldn't conceal its use because consumers won't thank them.
The party for the AI phenomenon is at last in full swing. Brands are pursuing and embracing new ways of working made possible by sudden, remarkable advances in what many commentators expect to be revolutionary tech.
One important consideration that has so far not been afforded the attention it deserves is consumers’ trust in brands' use of AI.
From streamlining administrative processes to producing creative assets, there is little activity that generative AI is not having an effect on. We’ve already seen innovative projects in the form of Beck’s AI-created beer and VirginMedia’s DyslexAI campaign. But one important consideration that has so far not been afforded the attention it deserves is consumers’ trust in brands' use of AI.
Croud surveyed over 2,500 consumers from the UK, US, France, Spain and China, revealing crucial insights for brands. Encouragingly, the overall results indicate that nearly three quarters (74%) of global consumers feel either positive or very positive about AI tools in general, but diving deeper into the research reveals a more nuanced reaction to brands’ use of AI, and highlights important factors for them to consider.
Above: Beck's used AI to create a beer.
Be transparent with every AI move you make
It takes years to build up trust and only seconds to destroy it; an adage that many brands do their best to remember, and it applies to AI too. Right now, brands have a critical, temporary opportunity to set the standard for disclosing the role of AI in how they connect with consumers. That window of opportunity narrows the further AI usage becomes mainstream. That brands disclose use of AI is a key consideration for 80% of the consumers surveyed in our research, across all regions and demographics.
Brands have a critical, temporary opportunity to set the standard for disclosing the role of AI in how they connect with consumers.
Adland is embracing the potential capabilities of AI - major holding groups such as WPP have identified it as a key area of focus for continued growth. But it is not a phenomenon exclusive to this sector, and consumers aren’t naive to its growing prevalence. AI makes it possible to completely fabricate the voice, words and image of real people. It’s not unusual for a consumer to feel concerned about 'fake news' and (literally) unrealistic lifestyles and aspirations. Equally, our survey respondents are concerned that brands disclose use of AI-generated material.
Brands have the opportunity to bring consumers along with them as they discover new and innovative ways to utilise generative AI within marketing activity. And when it comes to AI impacting the direct communication between brand and consumer, a precedent should be set for transparency.
Above: Innovative projects include VirginMedia’s DyslexAI campaign.
Consumers show no fear of AI
Consumers are far more likely to trust a brand when it has demonstrated transparency in its marketing activity - particularly with regard to digital activation - and AI activity is no exception. A recent survey by Mckinsey of 3,000 global consumers found that 85% of them thought knowing a company’s data privacy policies was important before making a purchase. 72% of respondents wanted to know a company’s AI policies before making a purchase.
Consumers are far more likely to trust a brand when it has demonstrated transparency in its marketing activity.
In the UK, when we asked how consumers would feel about their favourite brand disclosing that they are now using AI to produce written materials and communications, 40% of respondents said this would not impact the degree to which they trusted the brand. In fact, 59% said that they would be either likely or very likely to purchase from a brand that was making use of AI.
Amongst Gen-Z and Millennials surveyed in the UK, 37% indicated that they would actually trust their favourite brand more if they disclosed usage of AI (only 8% of this age group would trust a brand less).
Above: A Croud survey revealed that 72% of people wanted to know about a company's AI policy before making a purchase.
Where the AI-powered fun begins
The potential use cases for generative AI are vast, so where should a brand get stuck in? Brands may feel most comfortable beginning to test the benefits of using AI in some of their more factual materials, such as product descriptions. 66% of UK consumers felt positive about AI usage for this sort of activity.
Consumers most often demonstrated hesitancy towards AI when it might be generating personal communications.
Consumers most often demonstrated hesitancy towards AI when it might be generating personal communications, like social media posts and email communications. However, those who have negative feelings about AI are in the minority across all categories. If brands embrace a standard of transparency across their usage of AI, they should feel free to pursue its every possibility, and their fans and customers will be behind them as much as ever.
Be confident in making use of these exciting developments in generative AI. Practical use of AI technology has been on the horizon for a long time now and it's thrilling to see it have a genuine impact on how we go about our working lives. But we must be sure that we are bringing consumers along this journey of discovery, not leaving them in the dark.