Just 20 percent of American consumers “mostly” or “completely” trust artificial intelligence, according to the fifth wave of the dunnhumby Consumer Trends Tracker.
Americans’ trust in AI is higher than other markets, such as the U.K., where that figure is 14 percent.
The quarterly study – completing its fifth quarter – found that the level of trust Americans have in AI depends on age. While younger consumers — under age 45 — have a higher level of trust in AI (31 percent “mostly” or “completely” trust it), just 8 percent of those aged 55 and older “mostly” or “completely” trust AI.
The demographic groups more likely to trust AI are men (29 percent) versus women (14 percent), families with kids at home (29 percent), households earning more than $100,000 (37 percent) and those living in urban areas (32 percent), the study found.
In addition, respondents 45 or younger were the age group most enthusiastic about using AI-based technology for budgeting, personalization and sustainability, which would thereby prove a competitive advantage for grocers.
The consumer trends tracker is part of The dunnhumby Quarterly, an ongoing strategic market analysis of prominent retail themes. This wave, which surveyed 2,000 consumers, is the first to address their feelings about AI.
“What many Americans may not realize is that they have been interacting with AI for years, whether it is through Netflix recommending what they should watch next or a retailer serving up personalized offers based on consumers’ past purchases,” said Matt O’Grady, president of Americas for dunnhumby.
“The potential of artificial intelligence in grocery is tremendous and has been at the foundation of our own data science here at dunnhumby for over 20 years. Although the trust in AI is far from widespread, grocers should bear in mind it only took ChatGPT two months to hit 100 million users, making it one of the fastest growing computer applications ever.”
Key findings from the study:
- The top five concerns respondents have about AI are loss of jobs, security and privacy, loss of human touch, technology “in the wrong hands” and misinformation, in that order.
- Security, personalized rewards and recommendations and budgeting are the three most popular grocery-use cases for AI, according to the survey. For consumers under 45, the most appealing use of AI was for personalized rewards and recommendations, followed by budgeting.
- For older consumers, 55 and older – an age group that is otherwise distrusting or disinterested in AI – security (e.g. store surveillance, theft prevention, fraud detection) is the most appealing use.
- When asked about the potential benefits of AI, respondents talked broadly about its potential to “help” people. Respondents also ranked healthcare and medical, saving time, improvements and convenience and research, knowledge and information.
- The increasing willingness of consumers to engage with loyalty programs signals an opportunity for grocers to use AI to deliver more advanced personalization. With 52 percent of consumers identifying themselves in order to redeem rewards, and 56 percent saying it’s very or extremely important that a retailer rewards them for shopping there, this signals the time is right for retailers to step up their personalization efforts.
- Mounting food insecurity and fiscal conservatism underpin the appeal of AI to help shoppers budget for groceries. Over half of younger consumers shop around at different stores to find the best value (52 percent) and check prices online before/during a shop (51 percent).
- For consumers 45 and younger, 51 percent reported the use of AI for forecasting, stock and waste management as very or extremely appealing. Reducing out of stocks and excess inventory is a positive use of AI, especially for the 56 percent of consumers that say it’s very or extremely important that a retailer cares about food waste and has sustainable products and packaging.
Dunnhumby has interviewed 10,012 consumers, representative of the U.S. grocery shopper nationwide. The online interviews for the first wave were conducted in April 2022, the second in July 2022, third in November 2022, fourth in April and fifth in August. About 2,000 people were interviewed for each wave of the study.
The study is designed to uncover shopper needs, perceptions and behavior over time and to complement dunnhumby’s Retailer Preference Index, which measures the strength of retailers’ customer value proposition.
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