Audrey Chee-Read, Principal Analyst

Show Notes:

AI is everywhere, and brands that are using it need to tread carefully. Overpromising on its capabilities or not disclosing when it’s used can lead to distrust or even backlash from misled consumers. How can companies balance innovation with responsibility and transparency? Principal Analyst Audrey Chee-Read provides her insights on this episode of What It Means.

Chee-Read starts by noting how concerns around AI and particularly generative AI (genAI) have morphed as they’ve become more pervasive. “If 2023 skepticism around AI from consumers was all about the morality and ethics of AI — ‘Is it taking away our jobs? Is it taking away curiosity and intellect?’ — then the 2024 skepticism of AI is really around the output accuracy,” she says. She cites a few recent examples of AI-fueled forays that sparked mistrust and ridicule when the outcomes fell way short of the promise. Brands should take note, she says, as trust takes time to rebuild.

Compounding consumer skepticism toward AI is that the tech has matured to the point where distinguishing real from fake can be difficult, Chee-Read notes. Even when an image or video is authentic, people might be dubious (see: #KateGate). Consumers’ own experiences with tools like ChatGPT (if they’ve been subpar) might add to a distrust of AI’s output. This has implications for brands: Chee-Read cites recent Forrester survey findings in which more respondents said that they would distrust information provided by genAI than trust it. More than three-quarters of consumers in the same survey said that companies should disclose when they’re using genAI.

Along with being transparent about their use of genAI, brands need to see it as a means and not an end. “Look at all the branding — it’s all AI, AI, AI,” she says. “But it’s not actually telling you what it’s doing or how it’s solving a problem. It’s sort of using the shiny object, this bandwagon for everybody to jump on. It’s not actually talking about the unmet needs of a consumer or customer or what job it’s going to be doing.”

The episode closes with Chee-Read previewing a few of the many AI- and genAI-focused sessions at Forrester’s CX Summit North America next month. Chee-Read will lead a session diving deeper into using genAI in ways that are authentic to brands and that maintain consumer trust. There also will be sessions on AI’s role in the creative process, AI governance, AI skills for leadership, and more. Check out the full event agenda here.