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AI preference surges among ANZ consumers as brands struggle to catch up

A recent report reveals that consumers in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) are leading the world in their preference for AI-driven customer experiences (CX). However, ANZ brands are lagging behind in adopting the latest AI innovations, according to Adobe’s State of Digital Customer Experience report.

The report highlights that 39% of ANZ consumers would choose AI-enabled tools or services over human interactions, with many desiring both options, particularly when exploring new products and services. Despite these preferences, ANZ brands are falling behind their global counterparts. Only 6% of them are currently using or piloting generative AI to enhance CX, in contrast to the 18% global average. Additionally, brands in Europe and the US are roughly twice as likely to have dedicated AI budgets, and internal usage policies are over three times more common.

However, ANZ brands are committed to improving their generative AI capabilities in the next year, with 43% stating that it is their primary focus for enhancing customer experience, placing it at the top of their strategic agenda.

Katrina Troughton, Vice President and Managing Director for Adobe ANZ, stated, “Preferences for AI-assisted brand interactions are emerging as consumers see the potential benefits of generative AI. While ANZ brands are slower to launch generative AI initiatives than others globally, it’s their number one strategic focus for enhancing customer experience.”

ANZ consumers more data-conscious in the generative AI era  

In the realm of data privacy, 58% of ANZ consumers expect brands to offer the same level of personalization online and in-person, desiring unified and seamless experiences in every interaction. However, many brands struggle to meet this expectation due to a lack of data-driven technology tools and capabilities for delivering personalization at scale.

Troughton emphasized the importance of connected data and insights acted on in real-time for delivering great experiences. Consumer concerns about data security and privacy issues are driving the need for responsible practices among brands.

Both consumers and brands agree that data privacy and security concerns are obstacles to personalization. Brands often underestimate the impact of data missteps. While over two-thirds (68%) of consumers may stop buying from a brand that isn’t transparent about personal data use, only 40% of brands believe it impacts retention.

In the context of generative AI, ANZ consumers express the highest level of concern about their personal data being used without consent (63%) and the excessive collection of data about their behaviors (62%). However, many ANZ brands have yet to establish adequate AI guardrails to meet consumer expectations and maintain trust. Only 3% of brands have ongoing or completed initiatives to create internal usage policies, with 5% forming working groups to address the issue.

Brands in transition

Another study found that Australian and New Zealand (ANZ) brands are poised to spearhead the next wave of global customer experience innovation, fueled by a growing consumer awareness of new technologies and an increasing interest in virtual and immersive environments, according to recent research conducted by Adobe. Both marketers and consumers are eager to embrace artificial intelligence (AI), particularly generative AI. Adobe’s Future of Digital Experiences Report reveals that while 87% of ANZ consumers currently shop in physical stores, this percentage is projected to decline to 66% within the next two years. This shift is even more prominent across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, where it is expected to drop to just 40%, placing it below figures in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Consumers anticipate brands to expand their digital experiences into new formats, with 70% of ANZ consumers expressing a desire to view products through virtual or augmented reality, and 60% seeking engagement with brands in immersive and virtual worlds.

ANZ brands are gearing up to respond to this changing landscape with innovative digital experiences, including virtual and immersive events, the ability to create virtual products and transform them into physical items, VIP access to virtual influencers and celebrities, and offering digital tokens for trading virtual and physical products.

In the current economic climate, brands are under pressure to elevate their customer experiences. Approximately 44% of ANZ consumers claim that their expectations are heightened by economic uncertainties, particularly among ANZ Gen Z and millennials, where 50% indicate heightened expectations in a downturn. Trust and price are of paramount importance to ANZ consumers in a challenging economy.

Katrina Troughton, Vice President and Managing Director for Adobe ANZ, highlighted the rising expectations of ANZ consumers, stating, “Consumers across Australia and New Zealand have high expectations for brands, and this is only increasing as economic challenges grow in the region. Marketers already recognize the potential of artificial intelligence. The next step is to invest in such emerging technologies and apply it across all CX workflows to accelerate the delivery of personalized experiences.”

The report also underscores the significant role of generative AI. ANZ marketing and customer experience professionals are already leveraging AI, with 46% finding it helpful in their work and 12% describing it as a “miracle.” They hold even higher expectations for emerging generative AI technologies, with 85% anticipating its capacity to enhance their work product quality and volume, boost creativity, and better target the right customers.

ANZ consumers are also eager for brands to utilize generative AI, as long as it is used responsibly. A considerable 63% believe it can enhance the customer experience, and 66% believe it can improve product quality. Ethical considerations are crucial for 37% of consumers when it comes to how companies should use generative AI, while 47% prioritize actions that enhance the customer and employee experiences.

The research reveals diverse perspectives across the APAC region, with consumers and marketers in India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand showing a greater inclination to embrace new digital experience formats and tools compared to their counterparts in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

These findings highlight the evolving landscape of consumer expectations and the role of technology in shaping the future of customer experiences. The Adobe Future of Digital Experiences Report offers valuable insights into the digital economy, experience frontiers, and the potential of generative AI in enhancing customer experiences and product quality.

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