The rise of new post-COVID consumer behaviors, plus the continuing adoption of new digital and “convergent” channels is making it harder than ever for brands to keep up with changing buyer (and citizen) needs and wants. Add in the renewed urgency to use both online and offline data to drive better business decisions at scale, plus the continuing march to democratize data science, and you have a perfect storm in the world of consumer insights. One that is stirring up new interest in the role of AI to both provide new solutions – and also challenge the status quo.

This is why 2022 is shaping up to be the year of AI-enabled Consumer Intelligence or AICI. As I reviewed in my last article for MyCustomer, AICI may be motivated by the search for unknown unknowns, but it’s more than just finding new insights and getting all your data together.

The march to AICI actually started with investments brands made in social listening, VOC, and text analytics over the past decade, and has roots in all of these areas as Forrester’s Cinny Little pointed out in her research from 2020. Add the dual needs to get closer to the customer while also doing this more efficiently by consolidating around one insights platform that blends “behavioral data with solicited and unsolicited feedback,” as Joe Rice from Twitter framed it recently – and we have the latest spark for driving AICI into many more organizations.

Of course, how individual organizations adopt and roll out AICI depends on their focus, functional needs, and ultimately, their current digital and data maturity.

Pick Your Path to AICI

Insights “Insourcers” Lead the Way. Among future-forward brands in sectors like CPG, entertainment, finance, and high tech, which have both the motivation to apply data differently and the digital skills to make it happen, we see the growth of central data hubs as the driver for AICI.  As teams adapt self-service tools and export insights far and wide, they are investing in insights platforms and hungry to consume services and tech add-ons via APIs. These are the first movers, and firms to study and learn from for those who aren’t yet data wizards.

Insights “Outsourcers” Are Fast Followers. Many companies in consumer sectors like automotive, insurance, and retail are investing in corporate insights teams and are looking to move quickly to catch up to first movers. They are highly motivated to become more data driven, yet are still building out the digital skill sets to transform at scale. These companies are looking to providers like Ipsos and other agencies to manage their consumer analytics and serve up critical studies. On the tech side, they are looking at APIs, but are more likely to start with a “hybrid” AICI solution that bundles services and tech.

Insights “Integrators” Will Elevate Social or VOC Programs to AICI. Most traditional consumer goods, travel, and manufacturing companies (and even agencies) have been forced to “think digital” over the past 2 years, and will envision their AICI efforts as an extension of these efforts. Often they have more basic data needs and are focused on refreshing or connecting their marketing-centric social listening programs to other VOC or insights efforts – even while testing the waters of full-on AICI. Many of these firms still need to make the business case for AICI to sustain and scale up these efforts.

Orienting your plan to where you are in this journey is super important. There is no best place to start. But picking your starting point, seeing who will join the cause and play key roles on your AICI team, and determining what tools are in-place or are needed should all be on your checklist.

For those excited about the possibilities of this next generation of consumer insights, but still needing to rally the troops, we recommend the articles linked above, checking out our blog, and sharing our new “AICI Vision” video with colleagues.

If you and your team are eager to see our solutions in action, you can also request a demo with one of our friendly sales engineers here.