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AI is serving up a holiday feast

AI can tell us what to eat and how to prepare it this holiday season. Jeff Malmad of WPP’s Mindshare explains

Thankfully, for those of us who don’t enjoy the holiday food shop, it will increasingly AI-enabled going forward. Trawling the aisles for inspiration, standing in lines, fighting with food bags and bafflement at what to do with it all can be consigned to history, if consumers choose the AI approach.

Today, food inspiration, shopping and preparation is part of the connected relationship brands are having with consumers, all through the lens of AI. And it’s not just Gen Z who are taking the misery out of grocery shopping. AI is capturing the imagination of anyone who is time poor, patience short and excited by the new normal.

Algorithms and machine learning are facilitating and personalising the whole grocery run experience, and the impact is especially welcome around end-of-year events. Examples of AI-assisted grocery and food preparation are coming thick and fast.

Lives made easier with AI

Firstly, the whole concept of recipes is being revolutionised by AI. The new way to find recipes is through social channels and learning about how to cook your favourite dish; then the AI works in the background, finding the next best recipe to serve you, considering what is sitting in the fridge.

We have already seen Instacart launch an OpenAI plug-in to help consumers identify the best recipes to accommodate diverse dietary needs. And then there is Chefbot from Kroger which is a smart recipe bot who uses visual AI to ‘see’ nearly 2,000 ingredients and unlock almost 20,000 recipes.

Tyson Foods has launched Sous, an AI-powered mealtime helper. Sous addresses fatigue around ‘what to make for dinner’. The bot provides recipes from Buzzfeed’s Tasty collection based on what you want to make and what you have in your fridge. Recipes include a Tyson-portfolio ingredient from either Aidells, Wright Brand, Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm or Tyson itself. Mindshare teams worked on the partnership between Tyson and Buzzfeed.

Further, Tyson Foods’ Hillshire Farm has released LnchBot, a fully customised AI experience for Hillshire Farm Lunchmeat. Consumers can interact with the LnchBot to find the perfect sandwich recipe. Again, Mindshare teams worked on the partnership between Tyson and Bustle Media.

These are not just fun ways to stay in synch with new technologies. Rather, these types of initiatives are about utility for the consumer (delivered through AI-enabled hyper personalisation) and – at the same time – they deliver a new approach to commerce for brands.

No choice but to look forward

We are being propelled towards new ways of doing things by Gen Z and its expectation that the rest of us will keep up. AI assistance will become second nature. After all, the shift from 4G to 5G was seamless and the shift to using AI-enabled tools for everyday tasks will be too. Why wouldn't you have AI building your overall grocery experience, drawing on every digital touch point and personalising everything for you? In doing so, it can free up valuable time and resources for you to focus your energy elsewhere.

And this is good news for brands. Personalisation helps move products, and it does so in a way that is more useful to consumers. After all, the insights to be gained from a continuous digital journey only serves to elevate messaging. It is why Mindshare is so excited by Google Bard’s enhancements.

And at holiday time of year – when there is a frenzy of shopping regardless of what is needed or even wanted – AI enablement cuts through all the drama and gives brands the insights and information on marketplaces on which they rely.

Imagine how useful it is to combine, for example, Black Friday sales trends and spikes with census information, weather data, GDP information, consumer confidence indicators and anything else that might impact holiday season spending. Together, this data gives brands an immediate perspective on what they might sell, in what volumes, where to store it, how to ship it and how to manage all the other resources around those activities.

This is not just a way of making consumers’ lives easier; it helps drive brands’ business too.

What should brands be doing?

Firstly, content truly is king in this connected retail media environment. Product pages – including imagery, video, SEO, and reviews – across all marketplaces must be on point if the omnichannel world is to be truly ‘omni’.

Secondly, marketplace guidelines must be adhered to if brands are to build the best experiences for consumers. And, thirdly, brands should not forget that, if they are building brands through retail media, they are – in large part – doing so through mobile devices. So much commerce is now ‘on the go’. In fact, this was the first year that mobile shopping surpassed desktop shopping on Black Friday.

Finally, all of this must achieve scale, handle complexity and deliver that all-important personalisation. This is how brands win over audiences. There is no doubt that this is a very exciting time for retailers and for consumers alike. It is all about leveraging new technology to help make better decisions and ultimately delivering a welcoming AI feast.

Jeff Malmad


published on

04 December 2023


Technology & innovation

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