Businesses are failing to recognize how artificial intelligence (AI) has already changed the consumer, according to Mathew Sweezey, director of marketing strategy at Salesforce.
During the Salesforce World Tour in Sydney, which was hosted virtually, Sweezey said any medium that an individual interacts with on a daily basis now is empowered by artificial intelligence. He said these are the “post-AI consumers”.
“This is very critical, because if we don’t understand this, we won’t understand the modern consumer demands. Because now every interaction they have is specifically curated for them by artificial intelligence,” he explained. He said any digital medium whether it be email or social media is filtered by AI. “Every search result that you asked everyone in the world can ask the same question, but we all are given a different answer. And that answer is curated for us by artificial intelligence, and it’s focused on the context of the moment.”
He used the example of Facebook, where the posts on a user’s timeline aren’t in chronological order but contextual order. The AI is only going to serve users information based on the context of what they will engage with.
In 2025, 95 per cent of all interactions between a consumer and a brand will happen via artificial intelligence according to Sweezey. He said this is very critical because we must understand what that AI is optimised for, and who it is optimised for, because this is what the modern consumer demands. “In fact, when we look at modern consumers, we found 84 per cent of customers say that the experience a company creates is just as important as the product or service that they sell.
“This is a radical new idea that we must understand, and this means the experience is now a product that the business must focus on just as much as they focused on the physical product, and the delivery of that product with service.”
The Consumers Decision
The consumer lives in a world of infinite content, they have a different decision-making process. According to Sweezey, there’s risk in any decision, and a consumer will always optimise to mitigate that risk. All purchases are considered purchases, Sweezey said. He used the example of buying toothbrushes, consumers don’t look at each product and read the information on the packaging. Instead, they go online and see what other consumers recommend using.
Sweezey said brands must understand this because it changes the very fundamental idea of what marketing is for an organisation, and how marketers break through and motivate modern consumers.
There’s a massive gap between what businesses believe they are creating and what consumers are actually experiencing. Sweeney quotes research from Bain that found 80 per cent of businesses believe they are creating a great experience but only 8 per cent of their consumers would agree. To solve this problem, marketers should look to high performing businesses.
The number one key trait of a high performer is they had an executive buy-in to a new idea of marketing. “They don’t just simply adopt old ideas and just new ways of doing the same old things, they have a radically new idea of marketing. “They understand that the idea of marketing exists across the entire customer journey, and then is about experiences not messages, and they’ve shifted the definition of marketing to become the owners and sustainers of all experiences across the customer journey,” he said.
Sweezey said marketers must realise that experience must be contextual, meaning it must help a person achieve the goal of the moment. “A good experience is not just one that has great copy. It’s not just one that is catchy and has a great ad behind it. It’s one that helps somebody accomplish their goal at the moment.”
He said high performers are 17 times more likely to be able to create a cohesive customer experience and collaborate across the entire customer journey. For example, you should not advertise to somebody if they are unhappy with the brand, Sweezey warns. “What we find is only one third of businesses currently can suppress a marketing message to somebody in their support queue. “Once again, high performers collaborate and we must break down the silos across the organisation and understand every silo must be connected and they must be connected to create a cohesive customer experience.”