Artificial Intelligence? Millennials Say, 'Why Not?'

Younger consumers are more willing to trade data for suggestions

Author: Jeremy Kressmann

April 28, 2017

Artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining popularity with businesses and consumers in the retail industry, and many expect a wave of new AI-based recommendation tools for online shoppers.

Perhaps the best sign of consumers’ increasing interest in AI is research that suggests favorability toward its use in recommendation of products and services.

According to a March 2017 survey of internet users worldwide conducted by Qualtrics for Rocket Fuel, 50% or more of respondents from the Gen X, millennial and Gen Z age segments said they value AI for recommending various products and services.

Rocket Fuel’s findings match up with an earlier study by DigitasLBi, which investigated the potential business applications for so-called chatbots, a subsegment of AI that uses messaging powered by automated software.

According to the November 2016 survey, 22% of US internet users said they would like to receive chatbot-based product recommendations from retail stores, the highest of any category listed.

Adding to the potential of AI as a retail recommendation tool is a growing willingness by younger consumers to share personal information with retailers. A February survey of US internet users by Google for Retail Dive found more than 50% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 44 said they were willing to share personal information with retailers.

But not all research shows that consumers are willing to share personal information. In fact, a separate 2017 study from Retail Dive found that consumers often expect personalization without being open to sharing personal info.

But in the “age of Amazon,” where growing online consolidation threatens the bottom line for many traditional retail players, AI-based recommendations nevertheless seem like they may be a powerful tool for retail executives.