Category Science Radar
17 May 2024

GenAI diminishes brand authenticity

Tag Marketing
Tag AI
Tag Heilbronn

GenAI diminishes brand authenticity

As the marketing landscape evolves, embracing GenAI presents both opportunities and challenges.

In the dynamic world of marketing, staying ahead often means embracing cutting-edge technologies. Enter Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI), a powerful tool touted for its ability to churn out content at lightning speed. Yet, recent findings from a comprehensive study conducted at TUM Campus Heilbronn reveal a nuanced reality: while GenAI offers immense potential, its indiscriminate use can pose significant risks to brand reputation and consumer trust.


Published online in March by Martin Meißner, Professor of Digital Marketing at the TUM School of Management, and his doctoral student Jasper David Brüns in the renowned “Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services“, the paper explores GenAI perceptions in three steps:


  • Brand perceptions: In an initial study, the reactions of followers to brands using AI to create content was examined. The result: attitudinal and behavioral responses were negative and facilitated by deteriorated brand authenticity. Consumers long for authenticity, a quality that is seen as being compromised by AI-driven content creation.
  • Reactions to AI-generated ad images: Subsequently, participants were presented with ad imagery, some crafted with AI, to gauge reactions. Astonishingly, although participants can’t differentiate between GenAI and human content, AI-generated content is perceived negatively once its nature is disclosed, highlighting latent skepticism towards automated content creation.
  • Influencer perceptions: Transitioning to influencers, the third study sought to ascertain reactions towards AI-assisted content creation. Interestingly, findings underscored the importance of human touch in mitigating negative responses, hinting at the enduring appeal of human involvement in influencer engagements.


Managerial Recommendations

Prof. Meißner and Brüns advocate for a strategic approach to GenAI integration, emphasizing three key recommendations:

  • Caution and adaptation: Anticipate potential backlash and proactively address consumer concerns through thoughtful integration of AI. Prioritize consumer feedback, leveraging insights to fine-tune AI applications and content strategies.
  • Highlight human elements: Purposefully underscore human involvement in content creation processes to reassure consumers that human professionals are being assisted, not replaced.
  • Reinforce brand authenticity: Emphasize passion and consistency in content creation in the face of GenAI-induced automation efforts.


The Role of Education and Disclosure

Beyond brand strategies, broader societal acceptance of AI hinges on education and transparency initiatives. Prof. Meißner and Brüns champion knowledge dissemination through academic offerings and public forums, advocating for transparent disclosure practices to safeguard consumer trust.

The discourse surrounding AI-disclosure underscores the need for standardized practices and robust detection mechanisms. Prof. Meißner and Brüns assert the imperative of transparency for consumer protection, particularly in politically charged contexts where AI-generated misinformation can sway public opinion.


Conclusion: Guiding through the GenAI Landscape

As the marketing landscape continues to evolve, embracing GenAI presents both opportunities and challenges. TUM Campus Heilbronn's pioneering research sheds light on the multifaceted impact of AI in marketing, urging stakeholders to tread cautiously while harnessing its transformative potential. By prioritizing strategic adoption and adaptation, highlighting human elements, and reinforcing brand authenticity, brands can navigate the GenAI terrain with confidence, steering towards a future where innovation harmonizes seamlessly with consumer trust and brand image.


Read the complete paper here: