When streaming services, such as Spotify, first started to reinvent how we consume music, few would have predicted that vinyl records would ever make a comeback. Yet the past decade has brought with it a steady surge in sales of vinyl. We’re also seeing a revival of CDs, with the news that sales rose last year for the first time in two decades. In the digital age, people are turning to retro music formats. Why? Perhaps because they crave the tactile comfort they offer.
Likewise, as AI starts to dominate our lives and everyday interactions, the authentically human touch will be more prized than ever. Mintel’s 2024 global consumer trends report points to ‘Being Human’ as one of the most important considerations for brands this year. But what does this mean?
As AI becomes ubiquitous, consumers will increasingly desire a more humanised and traditional approach from brands
That which is handmade, artisanal or genuinely human will be more valued than ever. We’ve already seen the human touch become a key design trend as a direct response to the onslaught of AI. Meanwhile, Mintel’s report revealed that 47% of consumers are concerned about the increased prominence of AI and, in particular, having to interact with AI more than people for things like customer service.
This shows that in the race to implement AI, brands and businesses shouldn’t overlook their most important asset; people. The Post Office Horizon scandal shows what can happen when a company loses its humanity and prioritises technology over human beings. While AI will undoubtedly reshape the business landscape, with great power comes great responsibility. For today’s businesses, a key aspect of putting humans before tech is regulating and safeguarding their usage of it. Without ethical AI, brands won’t just be putting their businesses in jeopardy, they will be inflicting societal harm in a number of ways, from breaching data privacy to perpetuating bias.
Undoubtedly, AI will transform how brands reach and engage with consumers by automating operations, creating personalised content and elevating the customer experience. And this transformation is gathering pace. McKinsey reports that 50% of companies have already implemented AI, particularly in marketing service operations and product development. Meanwhile, the role of Chief AI Officer is becoming the c-suite’s most sought-after new job, with the number of people in the role tripling in the last five years, according to research from LinkedIn.
But as important as it is for businesses to recognise how AI can enhance their operations and the customer experience, they must also learn how to strike the right balance between AI and genuine human interaction. In the AI revolution, those brands that understand the importance of keeping the human side out will be the winners.
Featured image: Icarius Lim / Unsplash