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September 30, 2019 | By

AI IRL Podcast Episode 36: Consumer Science Researchers Are Using AI to Drive Stronger Business Results and More Satisfying Customer Experiences


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When it comes to AI, one space that’s not really talked about enough is the world of consumer science.

So, on the latest episode of AI:IRL, I was joined by Dr. John Ennis. As a market research consultant focused on sensory and consumer science, Dr. Ennis has a really great perspective to share on how we can leverage AI to really benefit the consumer science space.

The world of consumer science

“Intelligence is accomplishing a complex task. AI is using a machine to accomplish complex tasks.” — Dr. John Ennis

For pretty much any product you might buy at the grocery store or from an online site, there are typically researchers involved who are interested in understanding the consumer experience.

And you can understand the consumer experience conceptually from more of a pure marketing standpoint.

But these sensory researchers are more interested in understanding the actual sensory experience of the products that we buy and that we enjoy.

So, there’s a lot of research that happens behind the scenes that people aren’t really aware of in terms of trying to make these experiences as positive as possible.

How they’re leveraging AI to create better experiences

Recently, Unilever searched through song lyrics to look for combinations of things that they make — like product categories — and X, where X is some other noun.

One of the things they found was that “ice cream” and “breakfast” were paired together unusually often, compared to what you’d expect.

Combined with their other research, they came to the conclusion that there was some need for a product combining ice cream and breakfast.

That led to their line of Ben & Jerry’s cereal flavored ice creams, which has done very well.

So, why use AI in a scenario like this?

The advantages of using AI in these scenarios

“Sometimes the insights are fairly clear in retrospect, but a human wouldn’t have found them because there were just too many options to consider.” — Dr. John Ennis

Could a human have gone through that data? Sure.

But it would have taken a very long time.

By having an algorithm go through the data and combine that with other research, you can generate actionable insights very quickly.

And here’s another benefit to using AI.

We often get so biased by the past that we don’t let the data point us to the right answer. But technologies like AI don’t have that bias, leading to better insights.

And, sometimes with these large data sets, there are just too many options to consider.

While the insights you’re generating might be clear in retrospect, a human might not have found them because there were just too many alternatives to wade through in the first place.

So, by leveraging AI in this space, these researchers are generating better insights that lead to stronger business results and a more satisfying customer experience.

This discussion with Dr. John Ennis was taken from our AI: In Real Life. If you want to hear more AI episodes like this one, check us out on Apple Podcasts here.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can also find every episode here.


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