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AI can make reviews omnipresent and benefit all but we need to understand the risks

  • Written by Kate Musgrove, Bazaarvoice Managing Director at APAC

In an era where reviews have become a crucial tool for consumers and retailers, artificial intelligence can enormously impact how we create and use them.

We know shoppers use content to make decisions and businesses to drive sales. Our data indicates that virtually everyone in Australia says that reviews have influenced them to make a purchase at least once, and this crucial role is growing. In a Bazaarvoice survey this year, four in five Australians said they rely on content from others to make purchasing decisions as much or more than last year, and 39% would not buy a product without seeing other consumers' opinions.

If reviews are so essential, we must ask how to get people to write more of them. AI may be the answer.

There are several reasons why people don't create reviews after buying a product or a service. I recently even wrote a LinkedIn article about the half-joking suggestion by comedians Hamish Blake and Andy Lee for companies to implement a "Do Not Review" button for those committed to never writing reviews like them.

However, most people are willing to produce reviews, and from our studies and experience, we know around 70% of consumers would write them with minimal prompting. Yet most don't do it spontaneously because of many issues, varying from lack of time to finding it hard to explain what they want to say.

Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen-AI), such as Open AI's ChatGPT or Google's Bard, has the potential to change these dynamics completely. New tools based on Gen-AI, like the ones Bazaarvoice is implementing, will significantly reduce consumers' challenges in producing reviews and user-generated content (UGC).

The technology helps reviewers think about aspects of the product they are talking about, such as colour or texture. It can also suggest sentence structures or corrections to make the text clearer or make it faster to write without altering the meaning.

Despite initial scepticism and unfamiliarity with Gen-AI, 69% of shoppers believe these new technologies can aid them in crafting reviews and are open to the idea.

Almost six of ten (57%) of Australians who have already engaged with Gen-AI tools say they had positive experiences and are willing to use them again.

That said, the vast majority say they prefer assistance rather than replacement. Only 15% say they trust generative AI completely, with most people stressing they find human oversight essential and don't want reviews or content entirely produced by machines.

Our reports also highlight that almost half of consumers (46%) worry about a scenario in which robots produce reviews without human supervision - they would consider such reviews fake content.

The value of reviews resides in their authenticity, as they represent the genuine consumers' opinions. AI can enhance the quality of content and make it easier for more people to create it, but it makes no sense for AI to supplant the consumers' voice.

The importance of ensuring reviews represent real people with real experiences is evident by the fact that 44% of consumers already say they will trust more companies that implement safeguards against purely AI-generated content. This precaution will rapidly grow as more people use the technology and understand its potential.

On the other hand, as Australians become more knowledgeable about Gen-AI, they will also increasingly accept its role as an assistant and feel more comfortable using it to produce content. This will exponentially multiply the number of consumers who share their perspectives and opinions.

The increase in UGC will enormously positively impact consumers and companies, as we will have a much more precise and balanced view of products and services. But to guarantee this process will be primarily beneficial, companies must ensure authenticity and transparency are central to how the technologies are used.

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