How consumers really view the role of AI

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
AI concept
Consumers accept AI for some purposes.

A new survey provides a detailed look at the way U.S. consumers view the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in shopping and other areas of their lives.

Slightly more than half (52%) of respondents believe that AI will have a major impact on their lives in the next five years, according to a recent survey of roughly 2,200 U.S. adults from SurveyMonkey. 

Nine in 10 respondents prefer humans to AI for customer service, claiming humans better understand their needs, provide more thorough explanations and more options, and are less likely to frustrate. Respondents are split on whether they think they can tell when they are interacting with an AI chatbot (54% are confident) or identify AI-generated content (47% are confident).

Younger respondents are much more confident. Two-thirds of respondents ages 18-34 think they can identify AI chatbots (66%) or AI-generated content (59%), compared with those ages 35-64 (55% and 49%) and ages 65 and up (34% and 28%).

Varied feelings toward AI-based customer experience

Two-thirds (65%) of respondents would be comfortable using AI to help with retail-related tasks such as ordering food or beverages, while 59% would be comfortable using AI to assist in returning an item (59%).

But overall, more than half (56%) of respondents have negative feelings about companies using AI as part of the customer experience. Those age 65 and up are more likely to have these negative feelings (72%) compared with those ages 18-34 (41%) and 35-64 (58%).

Sentiment also varies by race and by income. White respondents are more likely to feel negatively (64%) than Black (40%) or Hispanic (39%) respondents, and those with higher incomes between $50-99,000 and $100,000 or more are more likely to have negative feelings (61%) than those with lower incomes (48%).

Despite the negative sentiment, there are still some AI use cases that interest consumers. About half of respondents are interested in having AI help walk them through website or product features (52%) or find personalized deals (47%).

Fewer are interested in having AI provide personalized product recommendations (42%) or resolve customer service issues (35%). And across all four use cases, there is a divide in interest levels between Gen Z and older generations.

For example, two-thirds (66%) of Gen Z respondents are interested in website or product walk-throughs, compared with 55% of millennials, 52% of Gen X, 45% of boomers, and 38% of the Silent Generation.

 

[Read more: Study: Generative AI will have $9 trillion impact on retail]

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