New Survey: Brands Must Earn Consumers' Trust with AI

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May 3, 2023

This sentence may not be written by a human. If it isn’t, does it matter? Depending on who you ask and what the content is, it may matter a lot. Mega music star Drake recently tweeted “this is the last straw,” about an AI-generated version of him rapping Ice Spice’s “Munch (Feelin’ U).” His frustration has everything to do with the mega profits that straw will likely sip from him and other artists in the future.

Artificial intelligence, including ChatGPT and other new generative AI tools, have us wondering what’s next. From deep fake videos to perfectly reproduced music rip-offs, we’re at a technology crossroads. We may be more profoundly changed by AI – and over a shorter time horizon – than any prior technology. Sounds hyperbolic, but not when considering the potential for erosion of trust across society. That’s big.

Given the importance of trust and authenticity to content and the brand-building it enables, we devoted our new Greenough Pulse survey to the subject of AI and trust. We once again surveyed more than 2,000 adults 18 and older, and the results offer some lessons for certain industries and all brands.

Top Datapoints and Takeaways

It’s not the tool; it’s the people using it.

More than three-quarters of Americans (75%) say they aren’t worried about AI, but rather the people who create and control it. To build trust quickly, brands must clearly outline their policies for AI use, and some industries may consider rules and regulations to guide consumers.

AI content must be labeled.

Almost 9 in 10 Americans (86%) say AI-generated content should be labeled as such. Clearly, labeling may be a necessary steppingstone to building trust among consumers.

Adoption will be slow, but Americans are willing.

Two in five Americans (39%) would be comfortable with AI-generated answers and advice with service or helpdesk support. In a much more sensitive area, health services, the number of Americans comfortable getting advice generated by AI drops to one in five (22%). The willingness is there, however, and acceptance could grow as consumers become more comfortable with telehealth and online healthcare applications.

Willingness to share information to improve communications.

More than half of Americans (52%) say they would likely want information shared if generative AI could help improve the communication between them and a brand. Likewise, two-thirds (66%) say that for brands, AI has a great ability to connect with consumers. An information-for-better-experience trade-off is more than acceptable.

Trusted sources, such as healthcare or financial services providers, can go even further, faster.

If trusted sources such as healthcare providers and financial institutions ask for information that helps AI personalize their experience, three in five (59%) Americans said they are okay with that. This signals a willingness in these industries to engage in richer, permission-based dialog with existing customers.

AI adoption will follow generational lines.

For AI-generated medical advice, only 12% of Americans 55 or older would trust the content compared to 26% of those 40-54 and 31% between the ages of 30 and 39. When it comes to advice or answers generated by AI for news stories, those over 55 are again less likely to trust the content (23%) versus 30-39 (36%) and 40-54 (35%), but here it’s equally interesting that the youngest cohort of 18-29 would trust this news-related content the least (22%).

AI isn’t going away. It will likely become more deeply embedded in our lives, so much so that we’ll forget how pervasive it is. For now, however, smart brands can use our data as rationale for accelerating their AI journey and as a reminder that whatever they do it must be built around transparency and trust.

Takeaways for marketers

  • Clearly outline policies for AI-generated content on the website, social media and other documentation
  • Start slowly, building trust with less personal content
  • Experiment, but ask permission at every step
  • Always be transparent and clear about the benefits of AI for your audience
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