How artificial intelligence can change the core of marketing theory

  • Received April 14, 2020;
    Accepted June 9, 2020;
    Published June 10, 2020
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  • Article Info
    Volume 16 2020, Issue #2, pp. 91-103
  • Cited by
    15 articles

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Various recently-introduced applications of artificial intelligence (AI) operate at the interface between businesses and consumers. This paper looks at whether these innovations have relevant implications for marketing theory. The latest literature on the connection between AI and marketing has emphasized a great variety of AI applications that qualify this relationship. Based on these studies but focusing only on the applications with a direct impact on the relationship at the very heart of marketing, i.e., the one between firms and consumers, the paper analyzes three categories of AI applications: AI-based shipping-then-shopping, AI-based service robots, and AI-based smart products and domestic robots. The main result of this first analysis is that all three categories have to do, each in their own way, with mass customization. A discussion of this common trait leads us to recognize their ways to mass customization that – unlike the traditional approach developed thanks to flexible automation and product modularity technologies – place the customization process within a broader perspective of consumer needs management. This change in approach means that marketing should focus more on managing consumers’ needs than directly on the satisfaction of those needs. This finding marks a genuine discontinuity that opens up a new space for reflection for scholars and marketing managers alike.

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    • Figure 1. From traditional to AI-based mass customization
    • Figure 2. From traditional to AI-based service industrialization
    • Conceptualization
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Data curation
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Formal Analysis
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Funding acquisition
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Investigation
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Methodology
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Project administration
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Resources
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Software
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Supervision
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Validation
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Visualization
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Writing – original draft
      Roberto Grandinetti
    • Writing – review & editing
      Roberto Grandinetti