AI Has Already Changed Your User

Why AI conditioning demands we rethink user insights

When people move from Google to chatGPT, they stop searching and start inuiting. They go from constructing an idea to iterating it, from analysis to instinct. 

ChatGPT and its AI counterparts are changing how we consume information and make decisions: we're being conditioned to cut to the chase, relying on quick, potent snippets of data that refine our gut reactions. 

Not only is that very different than traditional search, it also changes the way we expect to interact with other entities in our world, too. Most notably, brands.  

In her newest article, Concept Bureau's Culture and Market Researcher Hali Ipaye shows us the profound ways in which users have already changed their behaviors and expectations in the world of AI, and what that means for user insights.

Our conversations with AI, from confiding our deepest secrets to seeking brunch outfit advice, mark a significant leap in how we interact with technology and, ultimately, with ourselves.

The way people interact with themselves when no one is looking is just one of the fundamental assumptions that good user research has always been based on in the past... and if AI has already changed the behaviors of your user in such intimate ways, you can bet that your approach to user research will no longer give you insights you're looking for.

Hali shows us how to evolve the way we do user research in order to pull true, meaningful insights from a post-AI consumer. when people behave differently, we have to research them differently, too.

It means doing away with conclusions, traditional "reason", filters and anything "micro". 

Instead, you need to make room for fluid questioning that reveals how people are updating their self-understanding.

As Hali puts it, "The real secret isn't just in the questions we ask or the advice we seek but in the profound shift towards a future where our interactions with AI reflect a deeper understanding of ourselves. The most interesting secrets are those that lead us to discover more about what it means to be human."

The new frontier of user research requires us to rethink what we know about the user in the first place.

Exposure Therapy with Rory Sutherland

Room versus object.

Rory is a legend and you probably already know him from his best-selling book Alchemy. Much of his work centers the idea of questioning what seems “rational”, and the fact that so much of rational storytelling fails because it doesn’t consider the “irrational” parts of our human tendencies. 

He visited us at Exposure Therapy, our new community for strategic minds, for an intimate discussion on a big question: When creating a brand, what's more fundamental - the product, or the context around the product?

Enjoy this excerpt from our talk. 

Brands & Outliers

Every cultural shift that's worth noting right now.

We've dropped this month's Brands and Outliers video where we talked about how so many of our financial institutions are in the exploration phase at once, how dopamine culture is rewriting the entertainment landscape, and how an expansive cultural universe is creating new gravitational centers.

My favorite part, however, was our discussion on whether it makes sense to use old schools of philosophy in judging the future.

In My Flux Era

Here's what we've been consuming.

Selling Subversion (DIRT): "Today, we want so much of what we watch, buy and consume to feel serene, an antidote to the hyper-stimulation of modern life. But in 2004, when I was barely a teenager, I remember the collective, voracious appetite for the garish and subversive. I remember watching late-night TV, flicking through magazines and sitting eagerly at the cinema before the trailers started, waiting for an advert to shock me, jolt me awake."

Why We’re Living in an Age of Twins (New York Times): "Identical twins are our supreme analogy for the replication and splitting that, on a cellular level, spurs our growth as a species; as such, they are in some basic way our earliest introduction to the power of dualities... In an age of artificial intelligence and bioprinting, Le Tellier imbues our ancient dread of doubles with new meaning. “Am I the original or the copy?”"

What Relationships Would You Want, if You Believed They Were Possible? (The Ezra Klein Show): "“If this is such a significant relationship in my life, why is there no term for it?” wonders NPR’s Rhaina Cohen about a relationship that transcends the language we have available for friendship... It’s a call to open up what we can conceive of as possible. Some of these models might appeal to you. Others might not. But they all pose a question worth asking: What kinds of relationships would you want in your life, if you felt you could ask for them?"

The Golden Age of DINKs (Business Insider): ""It makes my life more meaningful. I feel like I can give more to my patients at work. I have more time to see my loved ones and family." Beyond the emotional value Johnson ascribes to her DINK status, there are the dollars-and-cents benefits to the lifestyle... The latest tally? About $1.1 million, a combination of the equity they've been able to accumulate in their new-build, suburban Minneapolis townhome and their retirement accounts."

Buying lottery tickets is smart (Small Potatoes): "We imagine something best if there is an easily imagined path to it really happening. Yes, I can simply fantasize that I now have twenty million dollars. But it’s like imagining that I can fly. There’s no conceivable way it can happen...A path triggers mental systems for thinking about the actual future, and such thinking excites the imagination."

[BONUS] Last week I wrote an article for Fast Company on how to do employer branding in our current era of flux. Very few brands pay attention to the invisible cultural contracts they're creating with new talent, and even fewer understand how those cultural contracts are changing right now. I talk about how in times of perceived turbulence, when people feel like they’re not in control of what’s ahead, the cultural contracts they seek with a company look different. "The grandiose company visions, flashy CEOs, and PR buzz that worked to attract talent in the past aren’t as compelling anymore, and what people need instead is something far more immediate."

Perfectly Cultured

Creative inspirations for the other side of your brain.

Something is happening in the historically monolithic world of women's categories. 

We’re in a renaissance of hybridization in women’s brands, and the most lucrative opportunities for building and investing are in the "in-between" spaces because they tap into latent demand for deeper experiences. 

  • The space between beauty and wellness is growing with brands like Rare Beauty and Timeline. 

  • The space between romance and porn is growing with brands like Dipsea and the booming “romantasy” genre. 

  • The space between healthcare and emotional care is growing with brands like Tia Health and Kindbody.

  • The space between motherhood and womanhood is growing with brands like Boram and Millie. 

These brands are awesome in their own right, but they also have a secret weapon. 

They naturally offer deeper user experiences and stronger community building because they solve for highly specific, emotional and personal needs in the "in-between" spaces of women's categories. Hybrid brands have a gravity that causes people to gather around them.

They’re poised to be market winners over the next 5-10 years because community is perhaps the only brand frontier that will be defensible against a whole host of factors, from AI and big data to unexpected market shifts.


Jasmine Bina
Founder & CEO
Concept Bureau, Inc.