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Consumers’ Perception of Artificial Intelligence Applications in Marketing Communication

Marketers are increasingly taking advantage of AI strategies when interacting with prospective customers, particularly in data collection and message targeting. But how consumers perceive or understand the use of AI in marketing has been unclear.

A recent study by University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications scholars Huan Chen and Sylvia Chan-Olmsted, doctoral student Julia Kim, and alumna Irene Mayor Sanabria, M.A.M.C. 2020, found that while consumer understanding of AI is intuitive, it is also very scattered.

First, consumers are unable to clarify the nuanced differences between the relationships among AI and other related terms like machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, and robotics. Consumers are also conflicted regarding their perception of AI in terms of two critical areas: functionality and emotion. Consumers appreciate voice-assisted AI as a valuable addition to their lives for simple tasks and convenience. However, the same users are cautious in developing emotional relationships with AI devices, even when a mild emotional connection has formed. Consumers view AI marketing as unavoidable and generally acceptable, but they don’t believe that it necessarily influences their purchasing decisions or behaviors.

For marketers, the benefit of AI comes in the form of insights, informing strategies, and developing better engagement approaches. AI technology enables marketers to obtain a large amount of consumer data and diverse types of data efficiently, which is one concern for consumers. Consumers perceive marketing AI as a potential threat with possible adverse effects at personal, societal, and cultural levels.

And to some degree, consumers are amazed by what AI can do and its level of intelligence and sophistication. The ability of AI marketing to personalize experiences and advertising messages is something consumers are intrigued by. But consumers do not feel that all the benefits of AI or voice-assisted AI outweigh their overwhelming privacy concerns.

According to the study’s authors, future research should analyze a more diverse group of consumers, varying in their education level and typical use of AI. Also, consumers from varying cultures and geographic locations would benefit future research. The authors also feel that future studies should evaluate the marketing AI ecosystem from a more holistic point of view, considering the perception of consumers and marketers.

The original article, “Consumers’ perception on artificial intelligence applications in marketing communication,” appeared in Qualitative Market Research on Dec. 23, 2021.

 Authors: Huan Chen, Sylvia Chan-Olmsted, Julia Kim, Irene Mayor Sanabria

 This summary was written by Dana Hackley, Ph.D.

Posted: March 9, 2022
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