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Survival of the Fittest: How Primal Instincts of Conversation and Search Can Help in Consumer Engagement

I often catch myself thinking about how search and conversations are fundamental to purchase decisions, be it a B2C product, a B2B product or solution, and really – in any vertical or category. When I talk about the importance of “search”, I don’t mean just Google or SEO. Absolutely not. It’s discovery and search in a far greater sense. Limiting the perception of “search” to just Google means limiting connection with the customers and prospects. Search happens where your customer is, no matter the channel or micro-moment.

We humans always search for something: food, friends, information, inspiration, jobs, opportunities – the list is endless. We search for happiness and meaning.

Conversations in the context of consumer connections online have historically been linked to just chatbots. Those pretty useless widgets on the website with predefined answers that everyone hates, as you can never really get an answer. 

No, I am not going to pitch our products immediately and tell you how AI helps redefine search and conversation (it sure does). You can read about that at the end of the article or on the website, if you’d like.

What I would really like to do is share some learnings about the importance of search and conversations in relation to our progress as a human species, and how understanding it may help better engage with the customers and achieve the goals of your choice. 

Last month, as I was getting ready for guest speaking at Oxford, I decided to go beyond the obvious reasons of why search and conversations are important, and... there goes the rabbit hole. 

 TL;DR – it’s all about survival that’s hard-wired into us.  

From our hunter-gatherer days searching for food and safe shelter, to philosophical dialogues shaping the foundations of societies, the instinct to seek and communicate has been central to our evolution

Embedded in our human nature, search has been a primal instinct that has driven our species, both in the context of survival and advancement. Just like seeking and search, our social, conversational nature is deeply linked to our ability to survive – it is a known fact that without a tribe or community, we would have been ill-equipped to face the numerous challenges of the wild.

For as long as the human history is tracked, dialogues and discourses have been crucial to our survival and progress. They opened up channels for sharing knowledge, expressing ideas, and fostering cultural and societal development. Early societies developed due to the mutual exchange of knowledge, resources, and support. Hunters shared information about the best hunting grounds, gatherers advised on the safest or most nutrient-rich fruits and berries, and elders passed down necessary survival skills to the younger generations. These conversations formed the backbone of ancient social structures, and without them, surviving in the wilderness would have been nearly impossible. If no information was exchanged through conversations, the danger of extinction was real.  

And then we kept evolving through conversations. Whether it was the Socratic dialogues in Ancient Greece, Vedic discourses in ancient India or Confucian wisdom in China, these dialogues provided a platform to voice ideas, drove evolution and enabled us to better understand the universe and our place in it. In every sense, conversations have been about sharing experiences and knowledge for collective growth. 

This primal conversational instinct, dating back from our hunter-gatherer days, is just as critical today in our sophisticated 21st century. 

This may sound like a stretch, but is it? 

It is deep inside our subconscious minds. Just as it was vital then – to know which berries were safe to eat, or where the biggest herds roamed, we now continue to subconsciously search and converse to survive. Maybe we no longer need to be exactly afraid of a predator, but the inherited instincts trigger similar behaviors. The 'tribes' we're part of now are our social circles, professional networks, and of course, the brands and businesses we engage with.

And just like our ancestors who engaged in meaningful dialogues to pass down skills and share precious knowledge for survival, businesses must understand the power of search and conversations. Search has long migrated to a channel or a micromoment where a customer is at that given time. And audience conversations that were once limited to face-to-face interactions or phone calls are now evolving to be more sophisticated and dynamic, thanks to the advances in technology. 

At a recent meeting with a global messaging company, we talked about how customers don’t always engage even if there is an opportunity for a 2-way conversation with business, and that it’s not just this messaging app, but a worldwide issue. 

Why? Because the quality of interaction between business and a consumer is subpar, to say the least.

  • Businesses do not respond.
  • Chatbots are outdated and don’t provide correct answers.
  • People simply don’t know the 2-way experience is changing to a better one, thanks to AI.

Never ever did we have the opportunity to use technology to let the customer find exactly what they are looking for and respond to any question they might have, all in a natural language, without predefined responses. It is now becoming possible with AI. And also find information fast, without having to click through hundreds of pages getting mad for not being able to find the correct product or solution. With the help of AI, we now have the ability to provide the right result and mimic natural human interaction and understanding, making the whole user experience feel effortless, as if they were speaking to a fellow human being (but with a full disclosure it is an AI assistant).


People will continue searching and will want to have a conversation. Maybe it is not about survival any longer, but definitely, this concept is planted so, so deep inside, that it is not going away anywhere anytime soon, no matter how safe and fed we are. 

In 2024, AI makes it possible for brands and businesses to help their customers find what they are looking for and have contextual and personalized engagements and conversations with each and every single customer – at a scale like never before. 

What’s more, these searches and conversations are a new source of absolutely unique insights into customer preferences, needs and behaviors - crucial information that can be used to tailor products, services and overall customer experience.

If you have a better source of audience insights at scale – that’s both qualitative and quantitative – I would very much like to have a conversation with you. I don’t buy into focus groups and surveys though. If you do, please read “Everybody Lies”, and also, start introducing conversational search at your customer touchpoints. Full disclosure: once you start looking at anonymized queries, your life will never be the same. You will get to truly know your consumer and customer, and will be able to serve them better, and your performance will soar.