Trust is the magic word when it comes to consumers’ opinions about brands and businesses using generative AI (GAI), and just a couple of months ago, there was very little faith that brand marketing and GAI would make a good match. That is still largely true, but now that consumers have had a chance to experiment with ChatGPT and other GAI bots themselves, trust may at least be on an upwards trajectory as familiarity increases.
New survey research of 7,000 global consumers from global management consulting firm Kearney‘s internal consumer think tank, the Kearney Consumer Institute (KCI). and the firm’s resulting report, Generative AI and Consumer Trust: Can AI Regenerate Consumer Trust in Brands?, addresses consumer attitudes and concerns around burgeoning GAI-driven retail technology, including most/least trusted uses and how brands can best use the technology.
As brands and retailers struggle to figure out where they are in relation to AI and GAI-powered technologies, consumer responses to technological change are often far more complex and nuanced than they realize. The research offers a suggested roadmap for how to begin thinking about AI in a more consumer-centric way.
“Our research has shown that consumers value honesty and consistency in a brand above all else,” said the report’s author Katie Thomas, who leads the Kearney Consumer Institute, in a news release. “That said, half of them have at least experimented with generative AI. What does that mean for brands that use artificial intelligence? Where do conversational bots fall on the trust spectrum?”
The think tank has been exploring how brands can begin to address consumer trust in AI through three primary avenues—consumer benefit and brand fit, personalization and data, and human-to-AI connectivity. The report also shares consumer sentiment data and addresses themes such as:
- Consumers’ varying levels of trust within digital, from the internet through social media to generative AI
- Top consumer use cases and levels of optimism/concern about AI
- Breakdown of consumers’ concerns across geographies about AI vs. its perceived potential
- What brands need to do to manage sometimes conflicting consumer attitudes toward AI, including understanding its benefits, consumer trust busters, and areas to watch out for
“Consumer familiarity with AI is rising steadily,” Thomas writes in the new report. “Most consumers are at least cautiously optimistic about AI if not outright excited about it, especially with regard to using AI-driven technologies to improve their productivity and make everyday life easier.”
To become thoughtful, intelligent users of GAI, brands need to assess consumers’ expectations and concerns as they directly relate to the brand. AI is not a blanket solution.
“Consumers enjoy experimenting with newer AI tools and see their potential, but they also bring a healthy dose of skepticism, with concerns ranging from mis/disinformation to data privacy to human connection to job loss,” added Thomas. “While we see a lot of potential for how brands can think about AI and use it to build trust, there are meaningful concerns, and consumers’ contradictory feelings must be acknowledged.”