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Learn what Mike Lee of The Future Market expects to see as artificial intelligence transforms the marketing of natural and organic dietary supplements.

Rick Polito, Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

February 13, 2024

5 Min Read
The growth of artificial intelligence will transform marketing practices
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This article was originally published in Nutrition Business Journal's Tech Issue.

As soon as ChatGPT started writing poetry, marketers around the world were among the first to sign in to put it through its paces. A bit more than a year later, marketers are grappling with sketching out best practices around its use. Food futurist and consultant Mike Lee has been closely watching the development of AI in marketing. We talked to him about what he is seeing now and what he expects to see soon.

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What has changed in the marketing industry’s understanding of AI since ChatGPT exploded into the public consciousness in late 2022?

Mike Lee: I don’t think a lot has changed yet. I think people are still in contemplation mode, to be honest with you. I think a lot of marketing departments are probably still experimenting and dabbling. Maybe on the back end, they’re using it to help write drafts or something like that. I know that in some corners of the marketing world, like for instance, real estate listings, they’ve been using AI for a long time to just crank those out, because those don’t need to win any awards. They just need it to be serviceable copy. I haven’t yet seen anybody use generative AI to power a real campaign, but I don’t think that’s because it’s not coming. I just think people haven’t had enough time to catch up yet.

Related:Design agencies weigh in on the state of supplement branding in 2023

Are you more or less concerned about AI in marketing than you were a year ago?

ML: I reserve the right to be both, because I think it is a really powerful tool that’s a very double-edged sword. I can see really good use cases where people can close the gap between their ideas and execution. People who are already creative can be more prolific because it can be used as kind of a leverage to get more stuff done or to find more ideas faster. I can also see how simple it is to use it for monstrous kind of things. So, I think it’s akin to something like social media in general, or the internet in general. Both have huge swings in positive and negative things that they can do. So, yeah, I’m a little bit of both at the same time, and that’s only because I’ve seen the models evolve very quickly and they’re able to do stuff better—a lot better—than they could a year ago. I think that services good and bad intentions equally in different directions.

Do you have a picture of what it looks like for marketing in five years?

ML: I think once brands figure out how to fine tune a model on knowledge about their brand, the internal brand guidelines, every other blog post they’ve written, we’ll see what this really means for marketing. All of that can be funneled into a model to fine tune it and make it sort of more like a working member of your team that can write in your voice. Right now, there’s no really obvious turnkey way to do that. It’s getting better, but I think once brands figure out how to do that, the tool is going to be much more powerful, and I could definitely see it as a rough draft writer. Say they’re doing a Black Friday promotion, you could say, “Give me 12 pieces of social media copy that we might want to do. And then let’s pick the best ones and remix them.” At that level, I can see it being worked into people’s workflows, just helping marketing get created much quicker. The same thing’s true with image generation. There’s still going to be room for real photographers and real illustrators, but for brands that don’t have deep pockets to hire those kinds of talented artists, I think generative AI is going to be a good enough solution for them. Do we want to do a $50,000 photo shoot for our product? Or do we want to pump it through generative AI with our $20-a-month subscription?

Related:Supplement trends: 7 growing categories, ingredients worth watching

So, we’re not all going to be replaced by robots?

ML: I see it no different than when they launched the first Apollo missions. A lot of calculations were done by hand. Then we have powerful calculators that do all that stuff. So, it’s like the humans are still driving the ship. They just have a computer doing a lot of the grunt work for them and helping them go faster.

Are there any special concerns in the natural products world for how it’s used?

ML: Yes, and I’ve been increasingly concerned about that. We’ve always had a certain section of people that are a little bit more fast and loose with the truth and their claims. There have always been unscrupulous players like the Liver King [fitness influencer Brian Johnson] where you find out he was actually on steroids this whole time and he was just lying. The same way that generative AI can accelerate good brands with good intentions to create more content faster, it can also help people like that build a huge 360-degree content platform that’s just based on shoddy science.

expo-west-2024-full-logo-white.pngLearn more about the supplements industry at Natural Products Expo West. Hear from industry experts discuss what advancements in AI will mean for the future of supplements at The State of Supplements at Natural Products Expo West 2024 at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 13, in Grand Ballroom F at the Marriott. Click here for registration information.

About the Author(s)

Rick Polito

Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

As Nutrition Business Journal's editor-in-chief, Rick Polito writes about the trends, deals and developments in the natural nutrition industry, looking for the little companies coming up and the big money coming in. An award-winning journalist, Polito knows that facts and figures never give the complete context and that the story of this industry has always been about people.

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