AI has people worried, but hopeful

In less than five minutes of reading time we’ll give you all the data and context you need to get you up to speed on Ipsos’ latest wave of the Consumer Tracker.

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends & Foresight Lab
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See the full data and methodology.

Here’s what we know today from the Ipsos Consumer Tracker:

Read on for data about AI, summer plans, banking, “buy now, pay-later” and more.

One in four younger Americans are buying groceries on installment

Why we asked: Consumer debt is rising, as is the number of people using “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) services.

What we found: 45% of people say they have bought something on an installment or BNPL plan. That’s pretty consistent across age and income. The most frequent purchases were large electronics, like computers or TVs, smaller electronics and appliances. While only 12% overall say they are using installment payments for groceries, that jumps to 26% among 18- to 34-year-olds. The idea that people are using these services for everyday purchases is a worrying sign for the economy as the price of items like milk and eggs continues to put an outsized dent in our wallets. We asked an open-ended “other” about things people have bought with BNPL. Furniture was a popular choice. But also mentions of musical instruments, a zero turn mower, toys, a sewing machine, car repairs and one person I’d like to start a GoFundMe for who needed to pay installments for insulin for their diabetic dog.

One in four younger Americans are buying groceries on installment

People think AI will hurt jobs and misinformation but will help disease detection

Why we asked: As we keep seeing new uses, both positive and negative, for AI and generative AI, we wondered how people viewed these uses and their potential benefits.

What we found: Most people (53%) think AI will have a negative effect on the spread of misinformation online. A plurality think these technologies will have a negative effect on both white (43%) and blue (46%) collar jobs, as well as the “digital divide.” We’re much more hopeful that early detection of medical conditions will get better (64%), and energy use, as well as road safety, due to AI being used in autonomous driving and crash avoidance systems.

People think AI will hurt jobs and misinformation but help disease detection

People are uncomfortable with AI doing tasks that it is already performing

Why we asked: As ChatGPT 4.0 and many other AI tools roll out, we wondered how people feel about many of the tasks that AI is performing today and likely will tomorrow.

What we found: People are mostly OK with AI performing a range of tasks, like analyzing supply chains (67%) or data for corporate decision making (63%), writing computer code (55%) and assessing cyber threats (59%). [Incidentally, ChatGPT helped come up with a list of things AI can do today and seed the question.] People are less comfortable with AI doing more personal tasks, like screening job applicants (43%) and reading medical tests (42%), despite the fact that AI is already doing HR tasks and has proven capable of reading medical tests, or at least helping to read them. This is an especially interesting finding in that people think that AI will improve test reading and disease detection down the road.

People are uncomfortable with AI doing tasks it is already performing

We know what you did last summer. It wasn’t what you said you would do.

Why we asked: We’ve been tracking for the past few years what people plan and actually wind up doing with their summers. It was time to check in again.

What we found: In 2022, we asked people what they planned to do in the summer. High levels of people said they would travel, dine out, go to the mall, etc. This year we asked what they actually did last summer, and people’s reported behavior was much less ambitious than their plans, in some cases by half, like the 30% who said they’d travel by plane internationally vs. the 14% who said they actually did. Notably, planning numbers for 2023 look a lot like those from 2022. So will people do what they say they will this year? With passport requests at record levels, maybe international travel will look more like what people say, but we’ll have to wait and see a bit.

People planned more activities in summer 2022 than they ended doing. Will that repeat 2023?

Banking is easier for the wealthy, who think it’s too easy

Why we asked: You might have noticed that since our last dispatch there has been some news in the banking sector. You also might not have noticed. Regardless, we thought it was a good time to check in on how we feel about banking these days.

What we found: Just under half of people say that banking is “simple,” and “quick.” Slightly more (54%) say it’s convenient. But two in three people also say it’s “stressful.” Those living household incomes of $100K+ are more likely to say it’s simple, and also more likely to say that it’s “too easy.”

Banking is easier for the wealthy, who think it’s too easy

People think their banks are safe

Why we asked: The words “banking crisis” have been in the news a lot lately.

What we found: People overwhelmingly feel that their savings are safe. Although that’s truer for older Americans than younger, and for those with higher incomes than lower. One of the discussion points about the current banking crisis and how it’s different is that it’s a lot easier to have a run on a bank with mobile apps and social-media-driven frenzies, so it’s worth keeping an eye on how younger, more app-enabled bank customers are thinking about these relationships.

Most feel their bank savings are safe

People trust local banks and hospitals with their data, but that’s it

Why we asked: Is it ever a bad time to ask about data privacy? This topic is among the most important in Ipsos Global Trends and always in the news and on people’s minds.

What we found: People are much more trusting (62%) of local and community banks than national ones (46%) when it comes to keeping their personal information safe. They’re not very trusting of social media or tech companies at all, but they’re much more so if these organizations are based in the U.S. (27%/37%) than in China (12%/11%). And as tax season rolls up on us (two weeks, folks, two weeks) only 31% of people trust the federal government, although arguably it has a better track record than private industry does.

People trust local banks more than national banks and U.S. companies more than Chinese companies with their data, but most don’t trust institutions at all

Signals

Here’s what we’re reading this week that has us thinking about the future.

  • Stanford copies ChatGPT for <$600 (via NewAtlas)
  • FDA clears lab-grown chicken (via WSJ)
  • Meta’s AI can use external software tools (via ArsTechnica)
  • Heinz is using Fortnite to push its environmental efforts (via AdAge)

For complete toplines for all waves, please see the full data and methodology.

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends & Foresight Lab

Consumer & Shopper