RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Businesses now operate in a new era of Consumerism;
  • Traditional customer-acquisition strategies are losing their appeal;
  • The Applied Intelligence offers a new way for companies to win consumers.


Businesses now operate in a new era of Consumerism. Hyper-personalization and on-demand delivery are as important as the products they sell. Also, the ability to meet each customer's needs - anytime, anywhere - is a new hallmark of competitiveness. Moreover, the ability to provide relevant, consistent and satisfying experiences at every consumer touchpoint is a key differentiator.

What is Applied Intelligence

Applied Intelligence is a set of tools for collecting, processing and analyzing data. It comprises 3 interrelated solutions: data analysis, artificial intelligence and automation.

Applied Intelligence influences the entire cycle of consumer-enterprise interactions, including consumer insights, digital marketing, digital commerce, in-store interaction and after-sale service.

Its "intelligence" derives from its ability to generate consumer insights faster and more effectively than ever before. With those insights, business leaders can identify opportunities for action more precisely and, in many cases, implement those actions automatically. The result is new business value.

Four major changes ushered by Applied Intelligence

No.1: Super-granularity

Omni-channel data collection, ubiquitous cameras and sensors, and intelligent equipment and third-party data platforms are all there to help.

Omni-channel data collection and ecosystems
Digital and intelligent technologies are enabling more consumer goods companies to collect data both online and off. AI, for example, is helping brick-and-mortar stores obtain real-time data for in-depth analysis. BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) platforms can offer access to an expanded set of data resources. In addition, consumer goods—which are, themselves, becoming more and more intelligent—constitute another important channel for collecting data.

Hyper-granularity and real-time data
The prevalence of mobile phones, cameras and sensors make it possible for companies to obtain data not only in real time, but in multi-dimensional formats. For instance, a mood-detection camera installed in a physical store captures, in real time, consumers’ first impressions of a product.

Digital operating platforms and AI algorithms
Digital operating platforms integrate data from various internal and external sources and turn that data into valuable insights with the help of AI and analytical tools. AI algorithms, for instance, can combine multi-dimensional data pertaining to product, customer and environmental characteristics and recommend the most suitable products in a given circumstance.

No.2: Hyper-personalization

Granular insights are increasingly shaping the shopping journey, making it more personalized and seamless.

Hyper-Granular Customization
AI can not only reduce the cost of customer interactions, but also be used to create granular personalized experiences. For instance, pressed powder products are now available in thousands of shades. Beer can be modified to suit the specific tastes of the consumer.

Customized Products
Intelligent technologies and sensors that visualize data, detect emotions or recognize voices to monitor shoppers’ behaviors can also be used to make consumer goods more intelligent and personalized. For example, with 3D printing technology, users can make adjustments to their face mask products, ensuring a better fit.

No.3: True intelligence

Big data, AR/VR, voice and image recognition technologies...Intelligent technologies keep advancing and enabling consumer goods companies.

New consumer interactions via virtual idols
Virtual idols, enabled by AI, are now serve as virtual brand ambassadors. Capable of self-learning, these idols can grow and evolve, offering a powerful route to connecting with a new generation of consumers, especially in Asia.

Immersive interactions deepen brand-consumer engagement
During COVID-19, AR is proving to be an effective channel for facilitating communications between consumer goods companies and consumers. For example, AB InBev collaborated with Snap to create an augmented reality filter on the Snapchat app for its Bud Light product.

5G brings about a "touchable", full-dimensional consumer experience
5G networks support voice and visual interactions and enable virtual interactions as if in the real world. For instance, online shopping will involve not only entering virtual fitting rooms that give shoppers the opportunity to “try on” clothes, but also learning about the textures and fabrics of clothes through the Internet of Things.

No.4: Intelligent products

Intelligent consumer goods—ranging from cosmetics to home care products to sports clothing—is significantly changing consumers interactions.

Company-customer interactions have been changed
The data collected from intelligent consumer goods can be integrated in the product’s entire life cycle. As a result, consumers are not only users of products and services. They are co-producers.

More than voice recognition
As the intelligent era evolves, interactions between humans and intelligent products will become even more person-centered. That means today’s voice-based interactions will gradually give way to "super-interactions" that are based on emotions, body sensations, and even human thoughts.

Sharing within an intelligent ecosystem
A number of products that are essential to human lives are becoming intelligent. In order to make their products truly intelligent and scalable, consumer goods companies need to actively participate in a data-sharing ecosystem.

Recommended actions

It is crucial that applied intelligence be human-centered, data-oriented and technology-driven for it to reshape interactions between consumers and companies.

A value-oriented AI strategy for interactions

  • Prioritize Applied Intelligence technologies based on their value-creation potential.
  • Rapidly develop products and services.

Releasing the value of consumer data

  • Collect data from multiple sources and break silos to unlock the value of integrated data.
  • Use the IoTs to manage real-time consumer data flows.

Embracing new data science

  • Adopt advanced algorithms, AI, machine learning, IoTs and block chain.
  • Rapidly test products and iterate development in an agile environment.

Designing new consumer experiences

  • Embed Applied Intelligence in the entire process of consumer interactions.
  • Innovate AI-enabled consumer experiences in a human-centered way.

Applying ethical AI practices and applications

  • Ensure intelligent systems’ stability, security and traceability.
  • Ensure protection of consumer privacy and data security.

View All

About the Authors

Sheryl Yu

Research Manager, Accenture Greater China


Elizabeth Liu

Research Specialist, Accenture Greater China


Shan He

Associate Manager – Accenture Research

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