Human Brand Ambassadors Have Limitations: Enter FoodTech Robots by@zakoganian

Human Brand Ambassadors Have Limitations: Enter FoodTech Robots

image
Zak Oganian HackerNoon profile picture

Zak Oganian

Zak Oganian is a drinks industry entrepreneur, with over 12 years of extensive experience in brand ownership.

In the nearest future, a majority of FoodTech businesses and consumer brands will start using cognitive virtual humans. Can this disrupt the role of our traditional brand influencers?

Introduction

Building deep and meaningful relationships with customers, whether B2B or B2C, has always been an integral part of business development and growth. The means and the rules for such relationships keep evolving with time. Over the past few decades, with the emergence of new technologies and substantial social shifts, the focus has gradually moved away from the functionality of products towards cultivating emotional relationships and links between brand culture and customer perception of it.

History of Brand Influencers

For centuries, brand ambassadors and brand influencers, of one form or other, have played a key role in bridging the communication gaps between businesses and customers. The concept of brand influencers is, in fact, even older than the concept of brands themselves — brand influencers root themselves back to around 2000 BC when they used branding to signify ownership.

For instance, farmers were the first brand influencers who branded their cattle to make them stand out from other livestock. In addition to the farmers, some craftsmen would imprint symbols onto their goods to signify their origins. Today, branding has turned into a way for companies (and even individuals) to market themselves while establishing a bond of trust with a potential consumer.

In the first half of the 19th century, consumers were familiar with a relatively limited range of products. Beginning with predominantly small-scale craft production methods and restricted consumption of goods, the brand-influencer role has naturally been carried on by the makers and their family members.

From the mid-19th century, companies in all sectors began pushing trade-marked and branded products. This allowed consumers to become more familiar with the concept of a brand and businesses to generate higher brand recognition and, at least in part, loyalty. The rise in precedents on brand recognition and protection during that time has also supported this evolution.

Then, with the subsequent arrival of mass production and industrial manufacture around the mid-20th century, companies substantially increased their dependence on brand promotion, advertising, and marketing, developing the hallmarks of more traditional brand management. With this, the responsibility for product growth fell onto brand managers, who were directly responsible for brand performance and influence at the time.

As commerce and industry in the Western world continued to thrive throughout the 20th Century, products in all segments, from mainstream such as Coca-Cola, Heinz-branded condiments, and luxuries, such as high fashion goods and cars, were all in demand. This was the rise of the age of mass production and mass promotion. Cultural shifts in the 70s and 80s have put an additional significant mark on consumer relationships with brands and how they are perceived.

These changes demanded a new way of brand promotion. In the 1990s, Marketing UK highlighted that brand managers are part of an outdated organisational system. The brand manager system has encouraged brand proliferation, which has led to debilitating cannibalisation and resource constraints.

As a result, the role of traditional brand managers had to evolve, at least in part, into more of an ambassadorial role, with a new level of interaction with, education and influence of the consumer.

Limitations of Human Brand Ambassadors

After the recent decades of brand ambassador evolution, today’s marketplace has washed many boundaries outlining who predominantly plays the role of the ultimate brand influencer. Generally speaking, today, many forces, both traditional and novel leading to impact — all thanks to the evolution and growth of cultural branding. But if we have to look to the next generation of consumers, we have to consider that today’s brand ambassadors as well as brand influencers might not be up to the standard, sadly, mainly for the reason that they are all humans, operating in an increasingly sophisticated digital (soon to be virtual) environment, posing at least the following limitations:

● Physical Limitations: In the age of rising personalised, on-demand ‘here and now’ consumer expectations, it becomes increasingly impossible for humans to meet the growing consumer standards to deliver activities and communicate at the scale and speed required.

● High and Hugely Varied Cost: Expect that any impactful brand ambassador or brand influencer comes at a high price; that’s before a personal expense account is negotiated. An chunky investment that also varies hugely between territories, currencies, cultures, activities and even circumstances.

● Limited Control Over Progress, Process, and Impact: Oftentimes, when it comes to brand influencers’ impact, a brand-building exercise can turn into a game of smoke and mirrors. Generally speaking, where the intention is to construct a brand image, one can determine whether the influencer activity is generally positive in the long run. But the exact effectiveness of a specific activation there and then, can be next to impossible to measure or control.

● Limited Feedback and Analytics: Very few traditional brand influencer engagement models will live up to the expectations of the scale and the precision that FoodTech solutions can deliver. The need for big data, analytics and AI automation is rising. Being able to uncover information, hidden patterns, correlations, trends and customer preferences “on the go” will help brands make informed, instant and even automated decisions for the benefit of their customers. This is unimaginable in the traditional brand ambassador, brand influencer realm, which is more general and vague in data collection and application.

● Considerable Environmental Impact: The travel requirements of brand ambassadors and influencers are limiting with time and distance and have a significant negative impact on the environment through carbon emissions and environmental sustainability damage. Consider for example, a single passenger travelling on a domestic flight in Britain, can lead to climate impacts equivalent to 254g of CO2 for every kilometre they travel, according to the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). After all, the travel sector accounts for 8% of global carbon emissions and grows at 4% per annum.

In addition to the above, another substantial change to account for is that the methods for working with customers, consumers, and clients, adopted over the past decade are also undergoing significant changes. The days of one-direction communication are over. What was recently considered cutting-edge no longer works now. The most powerful brands nowadays ought to successfully and flawlessly generate shared experiences and new emotions while allowing for a comfortable offline to online integration that is not only enjoyable, but also functional and easy to use. So, with all that said, what’s the next step in communications during the new industrial revolution?

Virtual Humans: From Evolution to Revolution

The next generation of brand influencers must understand and serve their customer’s needs in ways never imagined before. We need brand ambassadors and influencers who understand each consumer as a person and help them familiarise themselves with the product or service at any time and on any level individually required. The aim is to give the people the ultimate power over their experience, make them more immersed, connected and in control.

The future of brand building in the FoodTech Industry is not the one in which consumers are left even slightly unaware, uninformed, or (even more so) misled. The focus must be on enhancing individual experience there and then, regardless of the consumer’s level of product understanding. It must be limitless. Wherever you are, whatever language you speak, you must be able to get the best, most relevant information, help, and advice that aligns perfectly with your very needs.

The problem yet to be solved is: How do you build intelligent virtual human ambassadors and influencers? To make this happen, FoodTech businesses must actively leverage new and emerging technologies. They have to unite existing modern technologies to create intelligent virtual humans. Such technologies must evolve to power the brain that is going to power digital intelligence. Technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are already sufficient to solve this problem. However, a big part of it has to be Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Emotionless chatbot-driven call-centre-like robots are not a solution. The new generation of virtual human avatars must have the trajectory for evolution towards cognition. Their digital brains must be capable of making connections in the same way as humans do, learning concepts in various ways, remembering what they have learned, and applying it. Eventually, they will also need to reason through logic and memory of past events and conversations while also using sentiments to express emotions.

FoodTech businesses must invest heavily in AI, to help virtual humans achieve the results to match the increasing consumer expectations. Ultimately, such technologies have to enable fully rounded immersive experiences; therefore, they must be based on the concept of metaverse VR. The virtual avatars will be made lifelike using VR and AR, allowing them to transport themselves to events and activities instantly. They will always be ready to perform tasks above and beyond almost any set standards.

Most importantly, this has to be done in a way that doesn’t ignore the benefits of real-life experiences and interactions. Alternatively, the risk of failure by rejection in the early phases of adaptation is significant. This means that any evolving solutions in this area must be based on a vision interconnected with our physical reality, incorporating immersive experiences to enhance the human reality rather than replace it.

Conclusion

Brand influencers have come a long way since their inception. We now have technology at our disposal to ensure the rise of the first generation of digital brand ambassadors. Still, there is a lot to be done to find the best way in which existing as well and emerging technologies can sustain and evolve the digital human cognitive, intelligent development.

Nonetheless, while the ultimate result is still a few years away from completion, people can get a glimpse of life in the metaverse through a rising introduction of digital brand ambassadors 1.0. The year 2022 will mark a significant stepping stone in this brave new world. The world where every person will not only interact with and be influenced by a digital human, but will even have their twin in the digital metaverse, which will become an integrated part of our everyday reality, empowering people to live richer lives.

This article was also published on LinkedIn.


In the nearest future, a majority of FoodTech businesses and consumer brands will start using cognitive virtual humans. Can this disrupt the role of our traditional brand influencers?

Introduction

Building deep and meaningful relationships with customers, whether B2B or B2C, has always been an integral part of business development and growth. The means and the rules for such relationships keep evolving with time. Over the past few decades, with the emergence of new technologies and substantial social shifts, the focus has gradually moved away from the functionality of products towards cultivating emotional relationships and links between brand culture and customer perception of it.

History of Brand Influencers

For centuries, brand ambassadors and brand influencers, of one form or other, have played a key role in bridging the communication gaps between businesses and customers. The concept of brand influencers is, in fact, even older than the concept of brands themselves — brand influencers root themselves back to around 2000 BC when they used branding to signify ownership.

For instance, farmers were the first brand influencers who branded their cattle to make them stand out from other livestock. In addition to the farmers, some craftsmen would imprint symbols onto their goods to signify their origins. Today, branding has turned into a way for companies (and even individuals) to market themselves while establishing a bond of trust with a potential consumer.

In the first half of the 19th century, consumers were familiar with a relatively limited range of products. Beginning with predominantly small-scale craft production methods and restricted consumption of goods, the brand-influencer role has naturally been carried on by the makers and their family members.

From the mid-19th century, companies in all sectors began pushing trade-marked and branded products. This allowed consumers to become more familiar with the concept of a brand and businesses to generate higher brand recognition and, at least in part, loyalty. The rise in precedents on brand recognition and protection during that time has also supported this evolution.

Then, with the subsequent arrival of mass production and industrial manufacture around the mid-20th century, companies substantially increased their dependence on brand promotion, advertising, and marketing, developing the hallmarks of more traditional brand management. With this, the responsibility for product growth fell onto brand managers, who were directly responsible for brand performance and influence at the time.

As commerce and industry in the Western world continued to thrive throughout the 20th Century, products in all segments, from mainstream such as Coca-Cola, Heinz-branded condiments, and luxuries, such as high fashion goods and cars, were all in demand. This was the rise of the age of mass production and mass promotion. Cultural shifts in the 70s and 80s have put an additional significant mark on consumer relationships with brands and how they are perceived.

These changes demanded a new way of brand promotion. In the 1990s, Marketing UK highlighted that brand managers are part of an outdated organisational system. The brand manager system has encouraged brand proliferation, which has led to debilitating cannibalisation and resource constraints.

As a result, the role of traditional brand managers had to evolve, at least in part, into more of an ambassadorial role, with a new level of interaction with, education and influence of the consumer.

Limitations of Human Brand Ambassadors

After the recent decades of brand ambassador evolution, today’s marketplace has washed many boundaries outlining who predominantly plays the role of the ultimate brand influencer. Generally speaking, today, many forces, both traditional and novel leading to impact — all thanks to the evolution and growth of cultural branding. But if we have to look to the next generation of consumers, we have to consider that today’s brand ambassadors as well as brand influencers might not be up to the standard, sadly, mainly for the reason that they are all humans, operating in an increasingly sophisticated digital (soon to be virtual) environment, posing at least the following limitations:

● Physical Limitations: In the age of rising personalised, on-demand ‘here and now’ consumer expectations, it becomes increasingly impossible for humans to meet the growing consumer standards to deliver activities and communicate at the scale and speed required.

● High and Hugely Varied Cost: Expect that any impactful brand ambassador or brand influencer comes at a high price; that’s before a personal expense account is negotiated. An chunky investment that also varies hugely between territories, currencies, cultures, activities and even circumstances.

● Limited Control Over Progress, Process, and Impact: Oftentimes, when it comes to brand influencers’ impact, a brand-building exercise can turn into a game of smoke and mirrors. Generally speaking, where the intention is to construct a brand image, one can determine whether the influencer activity is generally positive in the long run. But the exact effectiveness of a specific activation there and then, can be next to impossible to measure or control.

● Limited Feedback and Analytics: Very few traditional brand influencer engagement models will live up to the expectations of the scale and the precision that FoodTech solutions can deliver. The need for big data, analytics and AI automation is rising. Being able to uncover information, hidden patterns, correlations, trends and customer preferences “on the go” will help brands make informed, instant and even automated decisions for the benefit of their customers. This is unimaginable in the traditional brand ambassador, brand influencer realm, which is more general and vague in data collection and application.

● Considerable Environmental Impact: The travel requirements of brand ambassadors and influencers are limiting with time and distance and have a significant negative impact on the environment through carbon emissions and environmental sustainability damage. Consider for example, a single passenger travelling on a domestic flight in Britain, can lead to climate impacts equivalent to 254g of CO2 for every kilometre they travel, according to the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). After all, the travel sector accounts for 8% of global carbon emissions and grows at 4% per annum.

In addition to the above, another substantial change to account for is that the methods for working with customers, consumers, and clients, adopted over the past decade are also undergoing significant changes. The days of one-direction communication are over. What was recently considered cutting-edge no longer works now. The most powerful brands nowadays ought to successfully and flawlessly generate shared experiences and new emotions while allowing for a comfortable offline to online integration that is not only enjoyable, but also functional and easy to use. So, with all that said, what’s the next step in communications during the new industrial revolution?

Virtual Humans: From Evolution to Revolution

The next generation of brand influencers must understand and serve their customer’s needs in ways never imagined before. We need brand ambassadors and influencers who understand each consumer as a person and help them familiarise themselves with the product or service at any time and on any level individually required. The aim is to give the people the ultimate power over their experience, make them more immersed, connected and in control.

The future of brand building in the FoodTech Industry is not the one in which consumers are left even slightly unaware, uninformed, or (even more so) misled. The focus must be on enhancing individual experience there and then, regardless of the consumer’s level of product understanding. It must be limitless. Wherever you are, whatever language you speak, you must be able to get the best, most relevant information, help, and advice that aligns perfectly with your very needs.

The problem yet to be solved is: How do you build intelligent virtual human ambassadors and influencers? To make this happen, FoodTech businesses must actively leverage new and emerging technologies. They have to unite existing modern technologies to create intelligent virtual humans. Such technologies must evolve to power the brain that is going to power digital intelligence. Technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are already sufficient to solve this problem. However, a big part of it has to be Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Emotionless chatbot-driven call-centre-like robots are not a solution. The new generation of virtual human avatars must have the trajectory for evolution towards cognition. Their digital brains must be capable of making connections in the same way as humans do, learning concepts in various ways, remembering what they have learned, and applying it. Eventually, they will also need to reason through logic and memory of past events and conversations while also using sentiments to express emotions.

FoodTech businesses must invest heavily in AI, to help virtual humans achieve the results to match the increasing consumer expectations. Ultimately, such technologies have to enable fully rounded immersive experiences; therefore, they must be based on the concept of metaverse VR. The virtual avatars will be made lifelike using VR and AR, allowing them to transport themselves to events and activities instantly. They will always be ready to perform tasks above and beyond almost any set standards.

Most importantly, this has to be done in a way that doesn’t ignore the benefits of real-life experiences and interactions. Alternatively, the risk of failure by rejection in the early phases of adaptation is significant. This means that any evolving solutions in this area must be based on a vision interconnected with our physical reality, incorporating immersive experiences to enhance the human reality rather than replace it.

Conclusion

Brand influencers have come a long way since their inception. We now have technology at our disposal to ensure the rise of the first generation of digital brand ambassadors. Still, there is a lot to be done to find the best way in which existing as well and emerging technologies can sustain and evolve the digital human cognitive, intelligent development.

Nonetheless, while the ultimate result is still a few years away from completion, people can get a glimpse of life in the metaverse through a rising introduction of digital brand ambassadors 1.0. The year 2022 will mark a significant stepping stone in this brave new world. The world where every person will not only interact with and be influenced by a digital human, but will even have their twin in the digital metaverse, which will become an integrated part of our everyday reality, empowering people to live richer lives.

This article was also published on LinkedIn.

Zak Oganian HackerNoon profile picture
by Zak Oganian @zakoganian.Zak Oganian is a drinks industry entrepreneur, with over 12 years of extensive experience in brand ownership.
Read my stories

Comments

Signup or Login to Join the Discussion

Tags

Related Stories