Consumer Choice and Autonomy in the Age of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data


Recent developments in the field of artificial intelligence and data analytics are facilitating the automation of some consumer chores (e.g., in smart homes and in self-driving cars) and allow the emergence of big-data-driven, micro-targeting marketing practices (e.g., personalized content recommendation algorithms). We contend that those developments can generate a tension for marketers, consumers, and policy makers: They can, on the one hand, contribute to consumer well-being by making consumer choices easier, more practical, and more efficient. On the other hand, they can also undermine consumers’ sense of autonomy, the absence of which can be detrimental to consumer well-being. Drawing on diverse perspectives from marketing, economics, philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology, we explore how consumers’ sense of autonomy in making choices affects their well-being. We discuss how new technologies may enhance or diminish consumers’ perceptions of being in control of their choices and how either of those can, in turn, enhance of detract from consumer well-being. Building on this, we identify open research questions in the domain of choice, well-being, and consumer welfare, and suggest avenues for future research.

Customer Needs and Solution