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Convenience, Scepticism, and Contribution: 4 AI-Related Consumer Behaviour Shifts

Written By: Ines Fressynet, Senior Behavioural Analyst at Canvas8


Artificial intelligence (AI) is impacting people’s perception of reality, recalibrating what’s considered authentic and fuelling a desire for extreme personalisation. In other words, it is causing behavioural shifts among consumers globally. Here are some of these shifts:

A Newfound Love for the Fake

The proliferation of artificial content creation through programs like Midjourney, ChatGPT, Character.AI and Dall-E, amongst others, has sparked a deep unease around truth and reality. More and more content is being generated that blurs the line between what is authentic and what is fabricated. This phenomenon is happening as scepticism mounts among people regarding the information they encounter online.

Artificial intelligence is impacting people’s perception of reality, recalibrating what’s considered authentic and fuelling a desire for extreme personalisation.

The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer reflects this shift, revealing that businesses have emerged as the most trusted institution globally, surpassing governments, NGOs and the media. Furthermore, younger generations are challenging the traditional notion of what is considered ‘real.’

Searches for knockoff items are skyrocketing, with platforms like TikTok playing a significant role in fuelling the popularity of replicas and alternatives. Hashtags like #reps and #dupe have amassed billions of views, demonstrating the immense interest in finding affordable imitations of high-end products, which are considered as valuable as their original counterparts.

Lower Brand Loyalty

Gen Zers are at the forefront of a transformative shift in self-expression, embracing a patchwork approach to defining their identities. Unlike previous generations that often adhered to singular, fixed identities, Gen Zers are increasingly comfortable with fluidity and multiplicity, notably because of social media. They have a closer relationship with their online selves than any generation prior and are spending more time in immersive digital environments where their identities—and tastes—shape and shift.

They are 22% more likely to say they’ve stopped following a brand online in the past month, and generally less loyal to brands in the long term. Technological innovation like AI chat bots assistants offering multiple identities to play with, in both physical and virtual realities, is one of the responses from brands to this phenomenon.

Loneliness Epidemic

Especially post-pandemic, people are rejecting the notion of being passive consumers and instead embrace a DIY mentality as a means of regaining control over their digital lives. The current resurgence for dumb phones, for example, speaks to Gen Z’s awareness of the negative effects of social media and digital devices on mental health. Enthusiasm for extended reality is also showing signs of waning, with investment in metaverse-related start-ups reaching USD $664 million in the first five months of 2023, down from USD $2.93 billion in the same period in 2022.

While AI may be partly to blame, there’s also the creeping question of whether this inching towards a full-time tech immersion is actually what people want. Popular TV series like Black Mirror have soured the vision into feeling dystopian and current tech intended to connect us can often disconnect us. Digitally native Gen Zers are four times more likely to feel lonely ‘most of the time’ compared to those over 70, and technology is often the one to blame.

Life Seems Softer, but Anxiety Lurks

The pervasive presence of AI in various aspects of life has given rise to a softer approach to interpersonal and brand interactions. As AI takes on tasks that were once solely human-driven, people are experiencing a sense of ease and convenience in their daily lives. AI-powered tools assist individuals in managing their time, workload, and even their relationships.

For example, DoNotPay’s chatbot is already helping users handle their bill negotiations, and luxury retailer Secoo is deploying ChatGPT to speed up customer service.

In the US, as many as 51% of people say they would automate chores and mundane tasks if they had the option. However, it should come as no surprise to read that 48% of US Gen Yers and 44% of Gen Zers are also concerned about the impact AI will have on their careers and their life. Many are experiencing “algorithmic anxiety” or a sense of unease when machine recommendations shape more of their decisions, both online and in real life.

A survey carried out by KPMG indicates that the majority of people (71%) expect AI to be regulated—a strong desire that perhaps is unsurprising given that 61% believe the long-term impact of AI on society is uncertain and unpredictable.