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AI in the promotional products industry: This is what Thorsten Bastian talks about at PSI Forum

Julia Bernert

Published on 19.10.2023

AI is changing the world. Thorsten Bastian, Managing Director of next2brain, will reveal how artificial intelligence really supports your own marketing when it comes to generating texts and images live at the PSI Forum on 11 January. Read our interview to find out why you shouldn’t miss his lecture.

Why are you talking about artificial intelligence (AI) at PSI?

Thorsten Bastian:I am firmly convinced that the emergence of AI and its ever-increasing integration into our professional and private lives will bring about changes as profound as industrialisation or the advent of the internet. We will have to deal with these issues whether we like it or not. And that’s where it’s better to inform ourselves in good time, to dispel fears and to give impulses as to where the opportunities lie for all of us.

What are the areas of application?

Thorsten Bastian:The application of artificial intelligence in the promotional products industry offers a multitude of opportunities to optimise business processes and improve customer relationships. Here are some application areas where AI is already being used or has great potential:

Warehouse management and supply chain optimisation: AI can be used to better manage inventory of promotional products. Algorithms can predict demand, reduce inventory costs and increase supply chain efficiency.

Personalised product recommendations: AI can make personalised product recommendations based on customer data and behaviour. This allows companies to offer more relevant promotional products and increase customer satisfaction.

Quality control: Machine learning models can be used to automatically check the quality of promotional products. This saves time and reduces the risk of errors in the final product.

Automated design of promotional products: AI tools can be used to automate the design of promotional products such as T-shirts, mugs or key rings. By analysing trends and customer preferences, these tools can make suggestions for appealing designs.

Pricing and discounting strategies: AI can help develop dynamic pricing models and discount strategies based on real-time data. This allows businesses to optimise their margins while remaining competitive.

Customer interaction and support: Chatbots and other AI-driven tools can be used to answer customer queries. This makes it easier for companies to provide efficient and consistent customer service.

Market analysis and trend forecasting: AI can play a role in identifying market trends early on. By analysing data such as sales figures, customer reviews and social media activity, companies can better understand what types of promotional products might be in demand in the future.

Recycling and sustainability: AI can also help to develop more sustainable business models in the promotional products industry, for example by optimising recycling processes or predicting the life cycle of products.

These application areas are just the tip of the iceberg. With the ongoing development of AI technology, many more innovative applications in the promotional products industry can be expected.

What role does AI play in creative processes?

Thorsten Bastian:In general, you can distinguish which roles AI will take on in creative processes. Both supporting tasks, brainstorming, research, increasing efficiency, etc. are possible. But generative tasks such as the creation of designs and layouts, storytelling or the creation of photos, renderings etc. are also possible. Especially with generative tasks, there are things to consider like level of creation, copyright and ownership but also the question of human intuition in the design process.

How do you use programmes like ChatGPT or Midjourney safely with regard to copyright, DGSVO, etc.?

Thorsten Bastian:There are many things to consider when using them. In addition to copyright and plagiarism checks, issues such as data storage, data security, anonymisation and transparency must also be considered. Ethical questions such as responsibility towards our customers and employees must also be asked.

With many offers on the net, we are still at the very beginning of these considerations. It is often unclear how and where data is stored. Who has access to it and what sources the AI algorithms use. Here, politics is also called upon to enact regulations and point the economy within limits.

How is AI changing the promotional products industry now and in the future?

Thorsten Bastian: “We see in all sectors of the economy that the use of AI leads to an acceleration of processes and can replace humans in many places. Repetitive tasks, inspection functions or even contact with customers can be taken over by artificial intelligence sooner or later, at least to a large extent. Through AI-supported data evaluation, trends can be recognised more quickly, supply chains and bottlenecks can be optimised, etc.

Will the promotional products consultant still be needed in the future?

Thorsten Bastian:So far, no AI can replace human intuition. But I am sure that consumer expectations will also change and that we will soon find it completely normal to be advised by a chatbot. I don’t think AI will take the job away from us. It will change and possibly take the job away from colleagues who can work better with the new tools. It is clear that the pace and pressure in business will increase. It is important to keep up with technological progress in order not to be left behind.

What opportunities and risks do you see?

Thorsten Bastian:Especially for smaller providers who are flexible and open to AI, I see enormous potential. It is important to be smart and to test things quickly. Then, in my opinion, the opportunities outweigh the risks. But of course you have to stay on the ball in order to be competitive and make economic sense. The important thing is not to be afraid and to react openly to new things. I would really hope for more adventurousness here. But of course always with the legal requirements in the background.