There are many practical uses for artificial intelligence, but it still seems kind of scary. Will humans be replaced? Is AI-generated information reliable? Can AI teach us all how to commit coupon fraud?

Questions like these have American consumers wondering whether AI is such a good idea. Little do many of us probably realize, though, that many of our favorite brands and retailers are already using the technology and, when used right, AI can help save us money at the grocery store.

A new report by the retail analytics company dunnhumby finds that only 20% of American consumers “completely” or “mostly” trust AI. Yet their interest in coupons and promotions indicates they may be more open to a little artificial assistance than they might think.

According to dunnhumby’s latest Consumer Trends Tracker, “the grocery sector may not be top-of-mind when it comes to AI,” but “the range and impact of possible applications is very significant.”

That’s particularly true among younger shoppers who are more open to what AI can offer them. While those under 45 have a higher level of trust in AI, it’s still a low percentage, at 31%. But this is also the age group most interested in saving money. And when they take that into consideration, they start to see AI as more helpful than harmful.

Respondents under 45 were most enthusiastic about using AI-based technology for budgeting, personalized rewards, discounts and recommendations. Further down the list of AI retail capabilities, but still of interest to shoppers, were intriguing but more unusual applications like shelf-stacking robots, self-driving shopping carts and AI involvement in new product creation.


Consider shoppers’ feelings about grocery loyalty programs and personalized savings. You can cut out a paper coupon, hand it over at the checkout, and remain anonymous. But shoppers know that the discounts and convenience provided by loyalty programs and digital coupons come with trade-offs – you have to share some personal information in order to get personalized discounts.

And more than half of all shoppers now say they’re okay with that. 52% of those surveyed said they regularly identify themselves when shopping in order to earn discounts and redeem rewards, and 56% said it’s very or extremely important that a retailer rewards them for shopping there, with relevant, money-saving offers. “The increasing willingness of consumers to engage with loyalty programs signals an opportunity for grocers to use AI to deliver more advanced personalization,” the report advises.

dunnhumby suggests this shift in sentiment is a combination of people becoming more comfortable with technology, and more eager for savings however they can get them. More than half of younger grocery shoppers report shopping around at different stores to find the best value, with a similar percentage checking prices online before or while shopping. And a third of younger shoppers report that money issues “sometimes” or “often” leave them without enough to eat.

So in addition to hoping AI can provide them with better grocery deals, some shoppers are taking matters into their own hands. “Budgeting has emerged as one of the most appealing uses of AI,” the report notes, citing a TikTok video that went viral this past spring, of a California couple that challenged ChatGPT to write them a grocery shopping list and meal plan that cost less than $100.

So maybe AI isn’t so scary? “What many Americans may not realize is that they have been interacting with AI for years, whether it is through Netflix recommending what they should watch next or a retailer serving up personalized offers based on consumers’ past purchases,” dunnhumby President of Americas Matt O’Grady said in a statement. “Although the trust in AI is far from widespread,” he acknowledged, “the potential of Artificial Intelligence in grocery is tremendous.”

These days, shoppers believe saving money on groceries is more important than ever. That’s even if it means acknowledging that machines may be better at finding discounts and deals than we are.

Image source: Virginia Retail


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