Are Grocers Ready for AI?

Bill Sussman

CEO at Collective Bias
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This article by Bill Sussman of Collective Bias, originally appeared on Progressive Grocer.

When hearing the phrase “artificial intelligence” (AI), one might picture talking computers, machines performing household tasks and robots going rogue. The truth is there is no consensus on how to define AI and it’s that lack of definition that is contributing to its massive growth. Now, you might be wondering how this has anything to do with grocers, but here’s why you need to pay attention.

BCC Research reported that the market will reach $15 billion by 2021. Earlier this year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos presented at Code Conference how AI would change everything, from shopping to driving. Global PR firm Weber Shandwick’s recently released “AI-Ready or Not: Artificial Intelligence Here We Come!” study aims to equip marketers with early consumer insights so they have a head start on future developments in this rapidly growing space.

iRobot jokes aside, let’s breakdown what consumers are thinking about AI and how marketers can get ahead of the curve.

Consumers Will Put Their Money On Brands That Are Using AI Technology

In their new study, Weber Shandwick’s President Gail Heimann says “as those of us in the marketing industry know, technology disruption brings challenges but also opportunities to master change.” Young consumers are interested in how retailers are going to be adopting and integrating these changes in technology. A report by JWT Intelligence found that 70 percent of U.S. Millennials would appreciate a brand or retailer using AI technology to show more interesting products. Additionally, 72 percent believe that as AI technology expands, brands using AI will be able to accurately predict what consumers want.

Kraft Foods is one brand truly embracing AI with its “iPhone Assistant” app, which integrates AI algorithms that can detect how large a consumer’s family is based on the recipes they download. The app learns about the user’s choices as times goes on and implements these learnings to make better recipe suggestions, such as recipes that use leftovers from other recently created dishes. The app also connects any coupons related to the ingredients needed and automatically downloads them for the user to pull up in the checkout line. All these learnings allow Kraft to better understand their customers’ behavior.

AI Benefits Are Plentiful for Both Consumers and Retailers

Visual listening is a key aspect of AI that is becoming more heavily adopted. Visual listening tools allow marketers to identify and analyze online images, such as posts on image-heavy platforms like Instagram, making it a compelling form of social intelligence for retailers. Just imagine all the times your brand may have been mentioned on social media in the form of untagged Instagram posts, Twitter images and more, and you didn’t even know about it. In fact, according to Netbase, about 80 percent of images that include a company’s logo don’t mention their brand in text. That’s a massive amount of data you could be missing out on. This technology could help answer more customer service issues, thank loyal consumers for sharing their brand love and more.

The benefits of AI that consumers are most excited for include easier access to news/information, easier decision-making for purchases of products or services, the possibility of lower-priced or more affordable products/services and products/services that provide greater ease and convenience. Grocers should not overlook these benefits as they consider integrating AI technologies in the near future.

The world is ready for AI outside of the realm of robot movies and outdated definitions. Will your retail banner be at the forefront?

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