Consumer, Retail, Strategy

The Buyer's Journey In the AI Era

MERGE takes a closer look at the path to purchase in the age of AI and machine learning

BY: MERGE Consumer Team

PUBLISHED: 2/29/2024

Shopper marketing is crucial for brands and retailers, with a majority of purchase decisions being made in-store, often impulsively. However, many shoppers leave empty-handed or unable to find the product they want or information they seek. Often this is due to difficulties finding what they need, or who to speak to, presenting an open opportunity to reach shoppers at a critical moment.

Technology and information access have changed shopper behavior, leading to the integration of various marketing approaches and tools to target shoppers more efficiently and effectively. Understanding shopper data insights and trends are key to developing successful marketing strategies, including identifying triggers and touchpoints along the path to purchase. 

Traditional methods of marketing to shoppers have also changed significantly in the modern digital world. Take for instance the new virtual worlds we are creating and beginning to socialize in. Extended, virtual, and augmented realities (XR, VR, and AR) are quickly becoming another step in the path to purchase, presenting a new emerging touchpoint in addition to another channel for marketers.

During a recent discussion in New York City on retail technology, we delved into the transformative potential of these digital tools in a dynamic retail landscape. Today, we are sharing a few pivotal insights gleaned from the chat, offering strategic guidance for brands to think about when navigating these new worlds of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and beyond.

1. Embrace Data-Driven Personalization: Dive into the realm of generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Jasper to decode intricate customer trends and preferences. By synergizing this data with sales and marketing insights, retailers can craft bespoke experiences tailored to each individual shopper. This not only streamlines the path to purchase, but also aligns offerings with evolving shopper behaviors, driving contemporary retail trends forward.

2. Navigate the Evolving Customer Journey: Recognize that today's customer journey transcends traditional boundaries, spanning digital, physical, and virtual realms. To effectively engage with shoppers, brands must seamlessly integrate these dimensions to foster meaningful connections across platforms. Consider innovative strategies such as virtual brand associations in video gaming to help forge emotional bonds with consumers early on, laying the foundation for enduring relationships.

3. Prioritize Human-Centric Values: In an era marked by heightened social consciousness, sustainability and diversity take center stage in the minds of modern shoppers. To earn and maintain trust, brands must wholeheartedly embrace these values, reflecting them in every facet of their operations. By championing causes that resonate with their audience, retailers can cultivate loyalty and forge deeper connections with consumers on a profoundly human level.




1. How can brands effectively leverage XR, VR, and AR technologies to enhance their marketing strategies and customer experiences?


Brands can effectively leverage XR (Extended Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), and AR (Augmented Reality) technologies to enhance their marketing strategies and customer experiences by creating immersive and interactive environments. These technologies can be used to offer virtual store tours, product demonstrations, or even create gamified shopping experiences that engage customers in unique ways.


2. What are some examples of successful marketing strategies that have used generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Jasper to decode customer trends and preferences?


There are many brands out there using using generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Jasper to help implement successful marketing strategies. For instance, companies might use these tools to generate personalized product descriptions, email marketing content, or social media posts based on individual customer preferences and behaviors. These AI tools can analyze large amounts of customer data to determine what kind of messaging will resonate most with each customer.


3. How can a brand ensure it is striking the right balance between using AI for personalization and respecting consumer privacy concerns?


Striking the right balance between using AI for personalization and respecting consumer privacy concerns is a complex process that requires careful thought and planning. Brands should be transparent about how they're using customer data and give customers control over their own information. This might involve clearly explaining how data is used in a privacy policy, offering opt-out options for data collection, or implementing robust data security measures to protect customer information. By taking these steps, brands can build trust with their customers while still delivering personalized experiences.


At MERGE, we're committed to staying at the forefront of these transformative shifts in the retail landscape for our clients. For brands looking to harness the power of emerging technologies and champion human-centric values, connect with us to not only meet, but exceed the evolving expectations of today's shoppers.