AI is coming: is it good or bad for the drinks industry?
With media hype that digital tools like ChatGPT could take artificial intelligence mainstream, we wanted to find out what it could mean for drinks producers and retailers.
As AI is more widely adopted and becomes more proficient, will it be a help or a hindrance? We ask three experts about how robots measure up against makers and marketers, and analyse the latest market data to gauge potential audience responses
Dan Hooper, founder, YesMore
From a marketing perspective there’s definitely going to be a lot more noise. AI will make it easier than ever for brands to churn out newsletters, social copy and blog posts. This could mean, sadly, that the written word loses its potency for audiences. With so much written content being produced so easily, it could all soon become background noise.
It doesn’t feel that long ago that a well-worded tweet was enough for a brand to go viral, but will the same be the case when audiences have witnessed every brand’s ability to create posts in any tone with ease and en masse?
However, just because every brand will be able to churn out a monthly, weekly or even hourly newsletter, it doesn’t really mean they should, and this is where the human element will be essential. Brands will have to push their marketing teams even further to construct campaigns that aren’t mass-producing content by code, but use ideas that connect with people on a human level.
I’m sure we’ll soon see more campaigns that are designed to create a connection, with content that serves not just as a tool for awareness and engagement, but speaks to the core values of customers and motivates them to take action. So yes, it will become much noisier, but hasn’t the marketer’s job always been to cut through that noise, no matter how deafening it gets?
YesMore analysis of recent consumer sentiment
Though it’s clear people aren’t ready to embrace AI fully until they understand when and how it’s being used, recent consumer surveys show that awareness of AI has definitely grown in the past year.
A 2022 gov.uk survey on attitudes to data and AI shows that 89% of adults had heard of it, compared to just 50% in 2021, though sentiments remain mixed. Some 21% had a negative view of AI, 16% were positive about it and 58% were in the middle.
As for customer service, the survey notes “people are positive that AI will improve the effi ciency of regular tasks and save them money on services and goods”, but words such as “worried” and “dangerous” were among those interpreted as negative sentiments.
A 2023 study by the software provider Redpoint Global showed that 45% of consumers are unsure about how AI will be used, though almost half are open to interacting with AI if it makes their customer experience more seamless and convenient. The Redpoint survey found that 77% of consumers believe positive customer experiences still need a human touch and 58% want it to be made clear when AI is being used.
A bad experience of AI could lead to them writing off a brand completely, with 76% saying they’d lose trust in a brand if its AI wasn’t flawless. It’s clear that brands and retailers will need to ensure people understand how and when AI is being used to alleviate concerns and scepticism.
There is clearly a great opportunity for brands and retailers in AI, but the successful ones will be those keeping a human touch and being transparent about how it’s used.
Stephen Finch, founder, Vagabond Wines
I got into a debate in an article I wrote last year with someone who had bravely declared that all AI tools in wine were “utter crap” and destined to remain that way. Hopefully the arrival of next-generation tools like ChatGPT now makes AI’s potential in wine more obvious – and less scary.
I see the most potential for AI on the consumer side. We all know customers respond well to retailers who “get them”, and vice versa. Our best people are great at crafting compelling comms and offers when they have specifi c customers or groups in mind. But there’s a limit to the scalability of that.
By adding AI into the mix, however, we can greatly enhance the ability of our best people to do their magic across a much larger set of customers. From identifying a subset who might be interested in a new wine, to drafting an offer email, or even a wine type for an upcoming offer, there’s so much scope for AI to make it easier for our best people to do their jobs better.
In an age of unending cost increases coming from all sides, this can only be a good thing
Liam Hirt, director, Circumstance Distillery
I first used AI about seven years ago when very complex skills were required. A few years later we used it to create the world’s first AI gin, Monker’s Garkel. It wasn’t much easier.
Today, AI is available through a simple prompt on a web page, and I am using it most days. AI has a role in product development, as we showed with Monker’s Garkel, and has roles in process management, but I use AI most frequently for tasks outside of production.
The list is long, but here are some examples. Content creation is a key area – writing a blog post usually takes me three hours or more. Having a generative AI tool draft the first version cuts that time significantly. When I don’t have a suitable image for a social media post, AI can quickly generate a beautiful image for me.
Written agreements are another area where AI is useful. It can quickly and easily draft agreements in clear, concise language. Generative AI is a game-changer because it allows me and my companies to operate at a much higher level than our resources would previously allow.
It was tempting to use AI to write this, but I resisted. Or did I?