••• technology research

Generative AI takes over

Marketers cite improved production rates, more creative output

Generative AI takes over.Seventy-three percent of marketers say that their companies make use of generative AI tools. Botco.ai, a generative AI chat cloud company, found that they use the tools to help create text, images, videos or other marketing content. 

The generative AI market got a boost in November 2022 with the launch of ChatGPT, a chatbot developed by AI research company OpenAI. Other notable generative AI tools include Google’s Bard AI, Copy.ai, Jasper, Midjourney, DALL-E 2 and more. According to Allied Market Research, the global generative AI market is projected to reach $126.5 billion by 2031, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 32% from 2022 to 2031.

Other key insights from the Botco.ai study include:

Generative AI is on the rise. Of those that say their company doesn’t use generative AI, about one-third (31%) say they expect to within the next 12 months and about half (46%) say they will do so within two years. Collectively, 77% of companies that aren’t currently using generative AI expect to use it within two years.

Copy that. Website copy is the most common form of content that marketers are most likely to use generative AI to produce, with 48% of respondents saying that their company is likely to create website copy with generative AI now or in the future. Other common use cases are e-mail copy (44%), social media copy (42%), social media images (39%), chatbots that interact with customers (37%), website images (36%), SEO content (35%), blog posts (33%) and marketing/sales collateral (33%).

ChatGPT is king. ChatGPT is the most-used generative AI tool, cited by 55% of respondents who currently use generative AI. The next-most popular tools include Copy.ai (42%), Jasper.ai (36%), Peppertype (29%), Lensa (28%), DALL-E (25%) and Midjourney (24%).

Lots to offer. The most common benefit marketers gain is increased performance (cited by 58% of respondents), followed by increased creative variety (50%), cost efficiencies (50%), faster creative cycles (47%), an ability to learn and improve (39%) and the augmentation of human creativity (34%).

Training is the largest roadblock. The most prominent barrier to using generative AI is training internal teams to use it, cost and privacy/security concerns, indicated by 50%, 45% and 45%, respectively. Lesser challenges include data scarcity (31%), poor-quality or inaccurate content (29%) and generative AI’s unethical biases (24%).

It drives ROI. Of those companies that use generative AI, two-thirds (66%) have received a positive ROI, with 43% saying they experienced at least a 2x ROI and 22% saying they received a 3x ROI. Only 7% say they’ve seen a negative ROI thus far.

Botco.ai conducted research in March 2023 with 1,000 marketing professionals for The State of GenAI Chatbot in Marketing report.

••• shopper insights

Online customers seek efficiency

Bad checkout experiences lead to abandoned shopping carts

Bad checkout experiences lead to abandoned shopping carts.Despite a difficult 2023 marked by uncertainty, recession and shifting business conditions, respondents to a survey by payment and commerce solutions provider Verifone acknowledged shopping online with greater frequency in the past year, with almost half (49%) reporting buying more online in the past 12 months vs. previously. Twenty-five percent did note a reduction to their online spending while 26% did not register any significant changes.

Of the online categories shopped most frequently, essentials like beauty and personal care (61%) and food and beverages (56%) took the first spots, closely followed by fashion (55%), electronic devices (50%), household items (49%) and entertainment (47%).

Convenience and selection were the main drivers of shopping online. Over half of respondents stated that they shopped on digital channels to save time (52%) and to find greater product diversity (49%). Forty-eight percent say user reviews, deal comparisons (47%) and promotional offers (42%) were also of great importance.

When asked which characteristics an online vendor would need to have to get their business, respondents placed the availability of their preferred payment methods at the top, followed by the existence of physical locations for servicing or returns and the availability of product reviews. Other aspects included loyalty and reward programs and the option to pick up items at a store branch.

When it comes to the online shopping journey, the checkout experience is a central deciding factor, with respondents having clear expectations of what should happen in the “cart.” Social proof, in the form of product reviews and price comparisons (44%), favorite payment methods (41%) and localization (40%) were respondents’ top trust elements prior to purchase, followed by an easy return policy (37%) and easy access to the shop’s support (35%). 

Checkout cost surprises were the main cause of cart abandonment. More than half of those surveyed (57%) admitted to abandoning a cart in the last year because of unexpected delivery costs. Other reasons included product availability issues discovered at checkout (27%) and a lack of ways to contact sellers with questions about the purchase (22%). The survey also highlighted the importance of payment options on conversions, with one in five respondents declaring that they would abandon the cart and purchase if their preferred method was not available.

As for favorite payment methods, cards still trump other options but digital wallets are challenging cards’ supremacy. Almost 70% of users listed cards as their online buying go-to option, followed by digital wallets, a top choice for half of those surveyed (50%). Newer alternative payment options are also gaining more followers. Just over a quarter of respondents (27%) also used buy-now-pay-later options for online shopping.

No significant negative impact was seen on the online shopping experience from the introduction of the strong customer authentication measures in Europe aimed at reducing fraud and increasing online payment security. When questioned about how they perceived the new card payment authentication step, most of the Europeans surveyed responded positively, with 36% appreciating the extra security, 34% agreeing that the authentication process was smooth and not too disruptive and only 16% expressing frustration with the extra identity authentication step.

With online shopping on the rise, global shoppers are currently experiencing a blend of digital and physical touchpoints, as omnichannel scenarios become more prevalent in their day-to-day lives. The most popular cross-channel use case was found to be buy online, collect in-store (49%); followed by buy online, collect at pick-up point (39%); buy online, return in-store (39%); and browse in-store, wish-list and order online (22%).

Verifone conducted this survey with 995 global respondents aged 18-65 from August-October 2022.

••• pet care research

Pampering is on the rise

Hoomans happy to dote on their fur babies

Pampering is on the rise.Today’s pets are increasingly living the high life, more akin to humans themselves than the four-legged animals of yesteryear. From organic diets to premium grooming, pet parents – Gen Z in particular – are matching their furry companions’ quality of life with that of their own, according to a survey by pet care company Wag.

The “humanization” of pets is clear but takes on a different meaning depending on who you ask. Wag found that while Baby Boomers largely view their pets as their children (49%), thirty-four percent of Gen Z think of them more as a best friend. Baby Boomers maintain a traditional view of a pet’s place in the home, sticking to a philosophy that centers around affordability and discipline. Even so, 71% of Baby Boomers allow their pets to sleep in their bed. 

Meanwhile Gen Z is less rigid, with 36% of respondents describing their training approach as flexible and reward-based. This generational shift also sees younger pet parents bringing their pets to more public places like restaurants, dressing them up and broadly spending more on items including food and fashion.

When it comes to food and nutrition though, Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers agree to put their wallets where their pets are, spending an average of $50 to $100 monthly. Fifty-three percent of pet parents say their pet has at least one dietary restriction, such as a gluten-free or vegetarian diet. Thirty-one percent of respondents say they feed their pets human food often or all the time. 

Younger pet parents overall are less budget-conscious, willing to spend premiums in areas like grooming materials and services, fashion and accessories and pet insurance. While older generations see their pets as children, Gen X and Baby Boomers spend less on their pets than Gen Z monthly, despite Gen Z typically making less money. Fifteen percent more Gen Zers have pet insurance than Baby Boomers, with 23% more Baby Boomers reporting regularly scheduled vet visits compared to Gen Z. Fifty-five percent say they dress their pet in clothing or accessories and 73% of Gen Z spend extra on pet fashion for special occasions. Seventy-three percent of Gen Z are also willing to spend extra for premium pet grooming services and materials. 

Many consider pets an essential part of life and believe disliking them is a relationship deal-breaker. Thirty-three percent of pet parents indicate that they would not date someone who dislikes pets and 35% would not marry someone who doesn't like them.

DKC Analytics conducted and analyzed Wag’s The State of Pet Parenting in 2023 survey with 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18-65 on January 6-7, 2023.

••• financial services research

Milestone or millstone?

Consumers struggle to pay for major life events

Consumers struggle to pay for major life events.Seventy-eight percent of Americans will experience a major life milestone in the next decade and half will encounter an important life event within the next 12 months and it’s no surprise that marking those moments can come with some emotional stress. However, research from Citizens Financial Group and Wakefield Research reveals that paying for these life events is what really weighs on people and that access to more payment options could help ease the way.

Sixty percent of Americans and 73% of Gen Z Americans say the financial stress of paying for the event is greater than the associated emotional stress. Increased financial flexibility would enhance these milestones, which for the year ahead include celebrating a wedding anniversary (18%) and purchasing a new home (15%). For the more than three in four Gen Z consumers who anticipate a life event this year, 42% will move into a new apartment, 16% are starting college and 11% are getting married.

Americans are eager to celebrate life’s biggest moments but many wish they could afford a better or more luxurious item related to the event.

Weddings: Of those who had a wedding or are planning to marry, 82% wish they could have the financial flexibility to afford a more luxurious honeymoon (54%) or more expensive wedding rings (28%).

New homes: Almost all (97%) of those planning to buy a new home would like the financial flexibility to afford more, including higher-quality furniture (51%), more smart home electronics (43%) and top-of-the-line appliances (42%).

Family planning: Nearly three in four parents (74%) and those expecting to welcome a child into their homes wish they had the financial flexibility to afford better amenities, including higher-quality furniture (41%) and smart electronics like a baby monitor (38%).

College: Among those who have started college or expect to, 92% wish they had options to afford a relevant item, such as personal electronics (62%), funds to travel home more often (57%) and appliances for dorm rooms (56%).

With nine in 10 consumers planning to make large purchases in the next 12 months – including a vacation (42%), a new cell phone (42%), a new laptop (36%) and new furniture (31%) – consumers are looking for installment financing options to pay them off over time. While credit cards (64%) and cash (48%) are the leading ways consumers will consider paying for purchases of $500 or more in the next 12 months, 17% will consider using buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) services.

Having the financial flexibility to make big-ticket purchases (53%) is the top benefit that consumers cite for using BNPL services, along with ease of application (39%) and being accepted at most retailers (29%). In the past 12 months, nearly one in five consumers (18%) have used BNPL services for purchases of $500 or more, driven by Millennials (29%) and Gen X (19%). Nearly half (46%) of consumers who have not used BNPL will consider it for upcoming purchases of $500 or more, particularly as prices rise due to inflation.

Citizens Financial Group and Wakefield Research conducted this survey with 2,000 U.S. adults from January 20-29, 2023.

••• Leisure research

Check it off the list

Americans seek one-of-a-kind experiences

Americans seek one-of-a-kind experiences.Regardless of inflation and rising prices, nearly 90% of Americans are still dreaming big with their bucket lists – with many looking forward to everything from trips to Fiji to purchasing their dream home. However, Ally Financial found that more than one-third of people with a bucket list haven't crossed off a single goal in the last 12 months and nearly 75% say finances are what's holding them back.

Travel reigns supreme on consumers' agendas, with visits to specific destinations on 85% of their lists with Italy, the U.K. and Australia coming in as the top three international destinations. One in five say a location in the U.S. is the top destination, with nearly a third (32%) of Gen Z saying so. The top international destination varies by age with Gen X choosing Australia while Millennials and Gen Z prefer European destinations including the U.K. and France.

Beyond travel, Americans also crave quality time with loved ones (58%), financial stability (50%) and want to learn new skills or hobbies (49%). Nearly one in four (23%) Americans dream of leaving their day jobs to pursue their passions. Gen Z have hefty goals, with over seven items on their bucket lists on average – significantly more than their older counterparts. Out-of-the-box bucket list goals were also accounted for including buying a luxury car and getting a tattoo (25%), skydiving (22%) and overcoming a fear of heights (20%).

Nearly 90% of U.S. adults have a bucket list but money and time are the top obstacles. Fifty percent cite finances as the ultimate hurdle to crossing off bucket-list goals with 75% ranking it among their top three barriers. Sixty-one percent of Gen X are especially likely to list finances as the No. 1 barrier.

Sticking to a budget is the top hurdle for both budgeters and non-budgeters with 31% of non-budgeters citing it as the reason they don't have one. While 81% of consumers are confident in their budgeting skills, half report feeling stressed when they go over budget. Pen and paper are still the primary budgeting tools for Americans yet almost a quarter of those surveyed say that even with a budget, they have trouble tracking and estimating their household's monthly spending. Thirty-eight percent of Gen Z and 52 percent of Millennials are especially likely to struggle sticking to their budget with one in 10 of Gen Z having no idea how much they spend monthly.

This online survey was conducted by CITE Research on behalf of Ally Financial from March 21-31, 2023, with 1,000 U.S. adults.