Home improvement professionals and companies rely on core insights about consumer behaviors and market trends to build success in the industry.
Iterations in technology, and access to that technology, has changed the ability for organizations to gather and analyze data at scale.
One technology that is currently the subject of a lot of buzz is generative artificial intelligence (AI). In recent years, it’s become integrated into the market research process in a variety of ways to supplement more traditional methods and is uniquely positioned for use by strained customer insights teams to get genuine insights out of large data sets.
Generative AI, as a technology, has been around for decades. It was initially introduced in the form of chatbots on websites. However, since the 1960s, this technology has become more refined. Today, generative AI can produce relatively authentic-seeming imagery, text, audio and synthetic data on its own, or through a self-generation method. This is due to the implementation of generative adversarial networks (GANs) and Variational Autoencoders (VAEs) for training neural networks to produce fresh data, along with the advent of transformers and recent advances in large language models (LLMs).
As the interfaces for tapping into generative AI have become increasingly simplified, the opportunities for its use have surged. This is the technology that you see being utilized by content creators to make innocuous deepfakes on social media; by the film industry to produce better dubbing; and by developers to generate new programming code. These are just a few examples of generative AI and how it is used, and there are a myriad of others that range from beneficial to neutral to nefarious.
Generative AI is also making an appearance in market research and customer insights, where its various applications are used to generate consumer and market insights. Along with other market research tools, the technology has enabled home improvement organizations to both gather and analyze more information about their target audiences and niche market segment to inform changes in go-to-market strategies.
From designing more targeted surveys to identifying trends in qualitative and quantitative data, here are some of the ways customer insights and other professional teams are employing generative AI in market research:
For many home improvement organizations, chatbots are a familiar aspect of generative AI, with ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, being released in November 2022. This technology, trained using data up through June of 2021, mimics brain cells to generate human-like responses about various topics from inputs by customers.
Currently, it is being implemented to gather customer feedback through chats. Customer and market insights teams can then use that data as a starting point for developing hypotheses to use in further market research. They can even integrate a possible hypothesis into a conversation with consumers and then analyze the responses.
According to a survey by Adobe, a majority, or 88 percent, of customer experience and marketing professionals feel that generative AI will help them identify new audiences in their market segment. Additionally, these professionals see use cases to better understand consumer sentiment and behavior patterns.
Although it’s viewed as less accurate than data gathered through empirical research, generative AI can sift through large amounts of data — from social media, chats, reviews, and other text — to identify patterns; look for connections between particular phrases and words; and highlight particular consumer attitudes toward a brand and its products or services. From there, companies can find ways to improve based on this sentiment analysis.
Generative AI is also being applied in natural language processing capacities on the reporting side of market research: to identify themes and trends in responses gathered through qualitative interviews or surveys. Rather than having to manually sort through each and every answer from respondents to look for themes and trends, insights teams are beginning to use generative AI to do this work for them, which is viewed as a time-saving mechanism.
Additionally, generative AI is applied in a broader fashion in order to scout external datasets and digital content to identify and predict market trends. It will scour large amounts of texts and create short summaries. By understanding how the market is changing or how customers’ needs and preferences are evolving, home improvement brands are able to keep pace with the speed of change among the modern customer’s purchase sentiments and adapt their strategies accordingly.
Market researchers are frequently looking for patterns to gain better market and consumer insights, and that’s where generative AI has found another use. It analyzes datasets and detects patterns and connections between multiple variables that have to do with consumer behaviors and preferences; product and sales performance; and market trends.
This type of pattern recognition, or pattern detection, better enables home improvement companies to explore ways to optimize their products and adjust marketing strategies based on these insights.
Some customer insights analysts are finding ways to use Generative AI as a predictive modeling technique to provide insight into trends surrounding purchasing decisions made by home improvement professionals and customers.
The premise is using historical sets of empirical data with predictive modeling in order to make a prediction about future behavior and purchase trends.
In the day-to-day work of customer intelligence, this means insights teams are able to
identify new customer journeys
stay abreast of buying and selling decisions
better personalize customer experiences
forecast customer demand and stock prices
understand more about product performance in an industry segment
Market demand is shifting towards a desire for real-time analytics, which is why many organizations are experimenting with generative AI. Virtual assistants, chatbots and avatars are used to harvest live data via website traffic and to some degree, automate “social listening” on social media. With this technology deployed organizations are able to continually collect real-time insights on a range of topics.
The techniques used to gather, synthesize, and analyze market research will continue to evolve as new technologies and tools, such as generative AI, emerge and become available for public use.
No matter what methodologies, techniques and processes you prefer, it’s important to utilize industry-specific data and insights around consumer behaviors, market trends, and product performance.
One option is becoming a member of the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI). You will increase your organization’s access to a wealth of valuable research and on-demand data about home improvement products categories specifically, to help you and your teams make informed decisions for the future of your company.
Stay informed about the research we’re conducting, home improvement industry trends, and information on our upcoming Home Improvement Insights Summit.