What do shoppers want – and how can brands give it to them

The future of shopping lies in driving the use of AI, improving customer personalisation and encouraging data-sharing, according to OMD’s latest Retail Revolution report

What do shoppers want – and how can brands give it to them

As brands and consumers navigated country-wide lockdowns, supply-chain issues and self-isolation during the early days of the pandemic, global media agency OMD set out to understand how consumers shopped in 2021, through a lens of artificial intelligence and technology, to plot a path forward for brands that has the most potential to transform their business.

Shoppers around the world are already utilising voice applications, visual search and digital assistants, of which the latter is reported to have reached ownership of 4.2bn globally at the end of 2020, a number expected to double by 2024.

And with Statista reporting the global total corporate artificial intelligence investment growing 400% to reach USD 67.85bn in 2020 from 2015, it has never been a more prudent time to deep dive into consumer behaviours; to understand how attitudes are defined by trust, how to close any trust gaps, and how trusted AI services are addressing today’s marketing challenges. 

The good news is that on average 65% of respondents to OMD’s latest research survey* said that AI interactions make their life easier. But there is a very clear barrier when it comes to trust, which is blocking full AI adoption for many. 

The most obvious trust gap is generational, acting as a drag on AI technologies scaling to their full potential; 61% of Millennials are familiar with AI, with 57% of them trusting it versus 25% of Baby Boomers that are familiar with AI, with 30% of them trusting it. 

However, it is clear that when the benefit of sharing data is clearly explained, consumers are comfortable to share their data in return for a valued experience. That could be quick and easy transactions or purchases, more personalised experiences or paying less for a product or service.  Consumers are also open to share data with brands and retailers on lower-priced items that are bought frequently, such as groceries, drinks and clothes – potentially because of familiarity of loyalty point schemes or lack of perceived impact.

To make the prospect of sharing data a measurable and compelling value exchange, consumers need to see brands convert concerns into benefits. Brands can promise to use data to learn about customer behaviour patterns – for better predictions around personalised offers or to apply more relevant options in communications.

As consumers become more tech savvy, and brands clamour to capture their attention and their data, it is crucial to listen to what they want, communicate with them in the right way, and explore new technologies which will drive brand messaging in the right way, at the right time, and for the right duration, to ensure commercial success.

To find out more on how consumers accept, understand and trust AI technology in their daily lives, download OMD’s latest research, Retail Revolution: Magic is Easy, Utility is Hard now

*Through multiple research phases and methods, including both a quantitative survey and qualitative methodologies, OMD’s Retail Revolution research series tracks over 30,000 respondents across 21 global markets, 21 shopping categories and 80 future retail scenarios. The most recent research phase was an online survey conducted across 4,200+ internet users aged 16-64 in the USA, UK, Germany, Spain, China and Australia. Sectors explored were Automotive & Vehicle, Electronics, Fashion & Apparel, Health & Beauty, Home & Garden, Groceries. Smart technologies covered were digital assistants, image search features, smart speakers, smart TV devices, smart lighting, smart thermostats, smart home monitoring/security and wearable devices. (Survey conducted by Global Web Index).



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