The buzz about artificial intelligence is starting to tiptoe outside of tech circles. While some worry about robots eventually taking over the world, a more meaningful discussion is burgeoning within the marketing realm.
Companies like Lowes are piloting in-store robots, which are trained to greet customers and help them find products in their massive stores. The company is hoping to free up their store associates by having a bot assist with simple questions, like “where are the hammers?” — leaving humans to handle more complex customer requests. While incredibly cool, hardware AI solutions like robots are expensive and cannot scale. As a result, software-only AI tools are launching that use a consumer’s smartphone as the interaction touchpoint to help brands automate customer support, provide personalized interaction and lower operational costs. For most brands, AI will take the form of a “virtual brand assistant,” a bi-directional text-an-agent widget that is embedded on existing and emerging touchpoints.
For CPG brands, AI can open a new channel of two-way communication and automate consumer interactions at scale, empowering marketers to assist with in-the-moment needs, market relevant products and extend their role in consumers’ lives. AI will truly take off in marketing if brands are empowered to connect with consumers within the channels that they are using everyday, be it Facebook, mobile wallets, Twitter, etc. Here a few examples of how AI might take form for CPG products:
In all of the examples above, the AI assistant has propelled the brand to become the hero in consumers’ lives. The brand surfaces only the exact information that is being sought in real-time; there is no need to sift through irrelevant information or even use archaic search to get the information needed. AI technology also empowers the brand to take every opportunity to personally cross-sell and next-sell at times when the consumer would be most receptive: in-the-moment, based on his or her real-time intent.
For brands, adopting software-only AI will be equivalent to hiring an army of highly knowledgeable customer service personnel who act as friends and brand experts who know are ready at a moment’s notice to offer advice and support. The level of unmatched personal support and attention that can be paid to every customer whenever and wherever they need it does not come close to rivaling anything that we have had access to before.