Shoppers’ Biggest Concern With AI? Their Personal Info

November 13, 2017

Consumers in the US are far more likely to describe artificial intelligence (AI) in positive than negative terms, according to a study from The Integer Group [download page]. And those who describe it in positive terms have an outlook that’s generally more curious than cautious when thinking about using artificial intelligence (AI) to help them shop today.

The survey asked almost 3,700 US consumers their perceptions of AI, finding that the vast majority had an optimistic view (“tech enthusiasts”). These tech enthusiasts (referred to as “shoppers” in the rest of this article) tend to see AI’s role as a personal assistant (68%) more so than concierge (35%) or coach (25%).

But while shoppers are more excited than fearful about AI’s role in their shopping, they clearly hold some concerns about the protection of their personal data in the future.

Asked to rank their top 3 concerns (from a list of 7) when it comes to AI in the future, fully 71% pointed to the protection of their personal information as being among their top 3. That includes 41% who ranked this their top concern, easily ahead of all other issues.

Privacy fears have reared their head in various pieces of recent research: a couple of new studies (see here and here) indicate that a company’s misuse of data would lead many consumers to permanently abandon the brand.

So it’s perhaps no surprise to see that privacy concerns would be top-of-mind for consumers when thinking about their use of AI in the future. That extends to the retail space: while retail marketers are enthused about AI’s potential, certain applications are met with hesitation by consumers. For example, recent research found far more shoppers considering it “creepy” (69%) than “cool” (15%) that companies understand their shopping habits so well that they’re able to use artificial intelligence/data to choose and order products on the consumer’s behalf. Likewise, shoppers tend to find creepy the idea of computer programs such as chat bots using artificial intelligence to help with customer service questions, rather than a real person.

This latest research from The Integer Group indicates that shoppers are least likely to allow AI to make purchase decisions for them in areas such as clothing and perishable groceries, but might be more willing to let AI make everyday household purchases for them.

As for the data that shoppers are most willing to share? A slight majority of Millennials and Gen Xers would share their past shopping history such that AI could help them shop with customized content and suggestions. But fewer than one-third would share their social media page and profile information, personal information, and financial records, among others.

Part I of the Integer Group’s white paper series is available for download here. Parts II, III and IV will follow in the coming months. For more information on Integer’s study, Embracing the Machines: AI’s Collision with Commerce, and to sign up to receive the series of white papers, visit

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 3,665 US consumers, of whom 3,615 described AI in positive terms.

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