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Anticipating Radical Shifts in Consumer Behavior from AI Adoption: A Look into the Future (Thinks Out Loud Episode 396)

AI generated image of robot shaking hands with a human being to illustrate the radical shifts in customer behavior coming from AI adoption

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella recently showcased the company’s vision for "your everyday AI companion." This genuinely represents a remarkable vision of the future. And one that seems likely to occur. Fortunately, many marketers recognize the value (or threats) to their work from incorporating artificial intelligence into their work.

The question I’d ask, though, is this: Have you begun to think about the radical shifts in consumer behavior we’re likely to witness when every one of your customers uses an "everyday AI companion" every day?

The internet and mobile and social media dramatically changed customer behavior. Universal AI adoption will drive radical shifts in how your customers discover and decide the products and services they use in their lives too. We’re already seeing changes in customer behavior, and AI is far from every day use.

Are you ready for this shift? Have you started thinking about the changes you’ll see in customer behavior once we achieve universal AI adoption? And, if not, how can you get ready for the changes we’re likely to see? That’s what this episode of Thinks Out Loud aims to uncover.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you…

Anticipating Radical Shifts in Consumer Behavior from AI Adoption: A Look into the Future (Thinks Out Loud Episode 396) Headlines and Show Notes

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This is the Microsoft Copilot event:

You might also enjoy this webinar I recently participated in with Miles Partnership that looked at "The Power of Generative AI and ChatGPT: What It Means for Tourism & Hospitality" here:

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Transcript: Anticipating Radical Shifts in Consumer Behavior from AI Adoption: A Look into the Future

Well hello again everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital expertise, your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 396 of the big show and I think we have a really, really cool show for you today. I was watching Microsoft’s Surface launch last week where they’re introducing their new products their new tablets, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

At least that’s what it was supposed to be, except that’s not what it was at all. Instead, they really were showing where they think AI is going, where they think their Copilot, as they call it, is going to take their customers. And of course, for so many of us, their customers are our customers. And I don’t know that we’ve grappled with how much the emergence of artificial intelligence as part of our daily lives is going to cause Radical shifts in customer behavior.

We’re going to see an explosion of changes in customer behavior that we’ve only seen a handful of other times previously. So my goal here today is to provide a look into the future. I don’t expect to get everything right. I don’t expect to get half of it right. The idea instead is to try to give a sense of the kinds of things we might see and how you can prepare for it so that you’re ready as it happens for your business.

I want to start by talking about what they actually talked about at this Microsoft event. Satya Nadella opened with saying a handful of just lovely, delightful quotes. Satya Nadella spends a lot of time crafting his words. He came up with the phrase that I’ve used many times over the last few years, where he said, we’ve seen two years of digital transformation in two months.

Now he’s referring to us entering the age of Copilots and talking about their Copilot, which is their product name, but artificial intelligence generally as quote, "your everyday AI companion." It’s "a handshake between you and technology." And what they showed was their, quote, "vision for an everyday AI companion" for you, how "it adapts to you," and how "you no longer have to be the orchestrator of apps and devices."

And I gotta tell you, it was cool. Now we all know tech demos, when they’re choreographed as well as these are, may not reflect how it’s going to work in practice. But I would encourage you to watch at least some of the video. You know, when you’re on YouTube, hover over the video. I will link to it in the show notes. I will embed it in the show. But hover over and you can see the most watched parts of the video. And I would encourage you to watch those, at least those. Because there was some really cool stuff.

The other thing to be aware is this is going to be introduced, as they say, seamlessly in, again, their quote, the apps and OS you use most every day. This started dropping in the latest Windows release September 26. When I’m recording this, that’s actually today. And that includes Copilot by default, the latest version of Windows. Outlook, Microsoft’s mail client, is going to incorporate Copilot. And they’re also integrating this into tools like Office 365, excuse me, Microsoft 365.

They’re updating Designer in Word to improve its ability to add and refine images. Now this wouldn’t be so interesting if it was only Microsoft doing this. The thing you have to remember is that lots of changes are coming lots of places. ChatGPT is introducing voice chat to its apps. There’s discussion about whether ChatGPT is going to develop a phone.

Google is incorporating BARD and its Duet feature into Gmail and Google Docs. I’ve been using that a lot lately and it’s really impressive. And we know that Google’s new AI model, Gemini, is certainly going to try to accomplish even more impressive tasks as it becomes available.

I have talked a number of times on this show about how you, as marketing and business professionals, can use AI or think about AI. And I’m going to be doing more of that today, a little bit. I have been testing a number of tools like, Anthropic’s Claude, Lately, Descript, SEMrush’s AI Writing Assistant, ChatGPT, BingChat from Microsoft, Google’s BARD, and a few others to improve my workflow and output. I’m ignoring the ones that I haven’t tested from people like Adobe with their Sensei product, HubSpot, and a ton of others out there.

As you’ve heard me say, these are incredible time savers and generally produce pretty good quality. I workshopped the title of today’s episode using SEMrush’s AI writing assistant. I wrote the final title. But the assistant I used as, you know, an assistant. It helped me craft ideas that turned into the final title for this show.

And the image for today’s podcast, which I do want to highlight for a moment, I generated using Microsoft’s Bing Chat AI, which is their implementation of Dall-E, as well as ChatGPT coupled with their Prometheus AI engine. I want to be clear, it’s not the greatest image. It’s that what you see, it created after just a few quick prompts.

I spent literally seven minutes to find an image that worked, that was good enough. And the reason I’m telling you this specifically, is it’s a sign that the average output of your competitors is about to get a lot better.

There’s research that shows that artificial intelligence really doesn’t help top performers all that much. But it makes mediocre and poor performers much, much better. Case in point, I didn’t ask my designer to find an image today. I just made one. I am not a graphic designer, not in the least. But the image is, you know, "okay." It’s not necessarily the best, but it’s certainly "good enough," created — so to speak — by a non-expert in minutes.

I am absolutely confident that my designer would have come up with something better. That’s not the point. The point is that anyone, even a yutz like me, with the most modest levels of talent — and I am really stretching the boundaries of the word talent here — can produce something that’s pretty good, that’s "good enough."

Whereas before, my output, if I tried to do something like this, would have been considerably worse than "pretty good." And it frees my designer to work on higher value work for the company. We’ve immediately gotten more productive and better at what we do because I didn’t have to pull them to work on something that isn’t, you know, tremendously high value the image for a specific podcast episode because I was able to just get something done on my own.

Now, if we want to make it better, I can give it to them and have them punch it up even further. But the idea is that suddenly the mediocre performers become better than average. Which means the average overall is going to get better, is going to improve.

Think about the tasks that Microsoft demoed if you’ve had a chance to watch the YouTube video. They showed the AI summarizing documents. They showed it creating content. They showed it finding information across apps and the internet at the same time. But my favorite part Carmen Zladeff, who is Microsoft’s Vice President of Windows, showed Copilot searching her texts for flight information, found plays in New York City, and texted her husband information about those plays with just two typed commands. There’s no reason, by the way, that this won’t be voice or can’t be voice-enabled pretty soon. They also showed it doing shopping.

Essentially, the AI was providing assistance and helping organize, your calendar, your schedule, and frankly, your life. That’s really what got me so jazzed about this and thought it was so important to talk about today. What we do as marketers is try to connect with people, with our customers, to help them at the points in their life where they need help. And here, I just watched this AI do many of the things.

Without necessarily guiding people to an answer on the internet, for instance, that’s just a massive, massive shift, it is going to shift customer behavior dramatically, radically. AI is going to change your customer’s behavior. Probably forever. We have seen, I mentioned this earlier, we have seen customer behavior shift dramatically and radically over the last two decades.

The internet absolutely changed the way people do things, the way people do the things they do. Mobile absolutely changed the way people do the things they do. The introduction of carrying a camera or a video with you everywhere you go has changed the way people do what they do. And social has changed radically the way people do what they do.

We are incredibly likely to see customer behavior change as much or more from using artificial intelligence in their day to day lives as well. Remember. ChatGPT has become the 28th most visited site on the entire internet. And it’s done that in about 10 months.

It’s probably even larger than that, by the way. Its traffic has declined the last few months. What you have to remember is it’s very likely that most of that decline is due to college students and high school students being on summer break. I expect we’re going to see its numbers jump up a bit in September and October as those become available. (I’m using SimilarWeb numbers, by the way).

The other thing you want to remember is that most people have never used it yet, right? Most people haven’t consciously interacted with an AI in their day to day lives yet in any meaningful sense. The people who have are using it a lot. The people who haven’t is still, you know, a ton of people. We’re still in the early innings of AI.

We’re still in the early innings of using these tools. I was originally going to call this episode, "We’re soooo not ready for AI." Because it feels in some ways like we’re not. Then I realized it’s far better to talk about the radical shifts in customer behavior we’re going to see. And to explore what you can do about it right now.

So what can you do about it right now? First, you’ve heard me talk before about "content is king, customer experience is queen, and data is your crown jewels." The original version of that phrase did not list customer experience as queen. Instead, it was "context is queen." And we’re about to explore a whole new series of contexts.

We have to take that into account. Here’s an example. A friend of mine just got a new car, an electric car. It’s the first one that I’ve ever seen close up. I know they’ve been around for a while. I know a lot of people have them. But I just hadn’t really ridden in one or spent much time around one.

And I live in Florida. We’ve had a brutally, brutally, hot summer here. My friend is doing things that completely blew my mind in terms of how we think about cars. For me anyway. For some of you, you might be like, well that’s really silly, of course you should have seen this coming. I didn’t.

He uses the car’s app to turn on the air conditioning while the car is parked in his garage and alert him when the car has reached the right temperature, a comfortable temperature.

My framing of what you can do with a car simply did not account for that reality until I saw it. Not because remote start is new, but because you can’t run your car in your garage. You don’t want to waste gas. You don’t want to pollute the environment. But most immediately, you don’t want to have a buildup of CO2 in the garage and suffocate yourself.

An electric car has none of these problems. The car also has built in video games and a web browser, so that you have a way to entertain yourself while you’re waiting for the car to charge. Again, that’s not something you could do with an internal combustion engine for all the same reasons I just mentioned.

And sure, it’s something you probably wouldn’t need to do in an, with an internal combustion engine car, because pumping gas is faster than charging. Both of those examples though, are examples of the context changing completely, changing radically.

That’s what we’re talking about as people incorporate AI into their lives. They’re going to do things we never expected that they would do as they figure out how this fits in their lives most appropriately, just like they did with the Internet. Just like they’ve done with mobile. Just like they’ve done with cameras and video. Just like they’ve done with social.

What you want to start doing is paying attention to see, are you seeing these shifts among your customers? And to start, you want to pay close attention to your web traffic. Are you seeing a rise in referrals or browsers or apps from unusual places, places that you haven’t seen before?

For example, I’m seeing on my site and on client sites, small but noticeable upticks in traffic from Google Lens, the company’s augmented reality search tool, from Bing, from Perplexity AI, and even in a couple of cases from Microsoft 365. Again, these are small numbers. But the fact that they’re not zero is absolutely worth watching, right?

Anytime you go from zero to one, that’s a big deal. Particularly if you then see it go from one to ten, and ten to a hundred, and a hundred to a thousand. So you want to keep an eye on those. So you can sit on that traffic and see if you’re seeing anything that changes anything that’s new.

You also want to start testing these tools for yourself. You want to create content. You can use AI to draft text or headlines or social posts. I’ve used tools like Lately or or SEMrush’s AI Writing Assistant or Bing Chat or ChatGPT and there are plenty of others.

You can use AI to create images with Dall-E which there’s a new version of Dall-E 3 coming in October. You can use Stable Diffusion or Midjourney or Bing Chat again.

You can test various tools as assistant, as assistants in your day to day life. Google’s BARD, especially in Gmail and Google Docs. You can use Microsoft Copilot, which is coming November 1st or so, depending on your version of Microsoft 365 and Outlook.

And you can use ChatGPT for some features, you know, you can upload data and have it give you information about it. You can shop using AI, try, you know, Google Bard or Microsoft Edge for shopping. You can test Spotify’s AI DJ tool called Xavier or sometimes called X to discover new music that you like, or I don’t know, maybe you hate.

And you can do searches and find other AIs that connect with your day to day work. I’m just sharing the ones that I know, that I’ve worked with, that I’ve tried. I’m confident that there are a whole bunch that I’ve never used. Just to give one small for instance, I’m an amateur musician, and I’ve tried out a tool like Soundraw to see how I can make better music using AI. Think about your own daily activities, your hobbies, other areas of your life where AI can help you do more, better, and faster.

And the most important thing you want to do here is you want to observe and track how your behavior changes. What are you doing differently? How are these tools, these Copilots, shaping your behaviors, shifting your behaviors?

To give one example, because I think that ChatGPT and Claude and Bing Chat currently are better than — at quite a few tasks — than BARD. I’m noticing that I tend not to go to Google quite as often. Questions that may have once been searches, you know, for example, updates to our content calendar, or social media post ideas, emails to clients or prospects.

I’m instead asking an AI assistant for help, just like I did with the title today, just like I did with the image today. That could easily change back to Google as they incorporate Gemini into Bard’s integration with Gmail, as they integrate it into Google Docs, as they integrate it into Search Generative Experience.

I also can see at the moment, I’m definitely searching less, at least if we use the traditional definition of search, if we think about it in those terms. Your mileage may vary. You may have a different reality. So pay attention to how your use differs from mine, and, more importantly, how it differs from what you’ve always done.

Of course, the last thing you want to do is you want to keep learning, and there are a ton of great resources out there for you.

Check out Ethan Mollick, who’s a Wharton business professor on Twitter. Check out his Substack. I will link to all of these in the show notes. Read Benedict Evans newsletter. Subscribe to Ben Thompson’s Stratechery email. Follow Joanna Stern and Paul Graham and M. G. Siegler on Twitter. Also, given that Twitter or X or whatever you want to call it is becoming the most anti-social social network, you probably want to follow them on LinkedIn and Threads or Bluesky or wherever they’re posting more frequently, too.

Check out the people that they follow and follow some of them as well. I’d also recommend taking a look at TechMeme and The Verge every week or so. Just, you know, dip your toe in and see what they’re talking about.

Of course, you should talk with your customers, too. What are they doing differently? And are you using any social listening to see how they’re talking about these tools — or if they’re talking about these tools?

And, of course, you could keep listening here, right? This is a trend and topic I expect we’re going to cover regularly over the next months and years as we watch this shift in customer behavior.

You don’t have to agree with all of these people that I just mentioned. Sometimes I think that one or more of them may be completely wrong, including me. I know, shocker, right? What they’re doing, though, is providing an array of ideas around how these tools and technologies will shape the world we and our customers will all live in over the next bunch of years.

Conclusion: Anticipating Radical Shifts in Consumer Behavior from AI Adoption: A Look into the Future

The emergence of artificial intelligence, as I said at the top of the show, as part of our daily lives is going to cause radical shifts in customer behavior. My goal was to try to provide a look into the future. We may be in the early innings here. We may have a long way to go from where we are to where we will end up. But the thing I can tell you for sure, is that it’s not too soon to get in the game.

Show Wrap-Up and Credits

Now, looking at the clock on the wall. We are out of time for this week.

As always, I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode as well as an archive of all past episodes by going to Again, that’s Just look for episode 396.

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Show Outro

Finally, I want to say thank you so much for tuning in and for participating and for being part of this community.

I know I say this just about every week, but I would not do this show without you. Your support, your listenership, your comments, your conversation, the community you are helping us build means so very much to me. So please keep the tweets coming. Keep the messages coming on LinkedIn. Keep the emails coming.

I love, love, LOVE getting a chance to chat with you and hear what’s on your mind and learn how we can work together to make this a better community for all of us.

So with all of that said, I hope you have a fantastic rest of the week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. And I will look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time.

Until then, please be well, be safe, and as always, take care of yourself.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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