Secret to converting consumers: Expert recommendation behavior

How to convert a consumer: Expert recommendation behavior

Influencer Marketing
Modern Marketing


Let’s imagine you love taking photos. You might be a professional photographer, or a retail associate in a boutique camera shop or maybe it’s a hobby you’ve spent years perfecting. Regardless, you know all about the different cameras on the market, and how one DSLR varies from another. You can speak to which lenses are best for landscape, and which work best for a close-up portrait. In fact, you’ve become known for, well… knowing all of this. So well-known  that your friends and family come to you with questions when they’re looking to invest in their own camera equipment. They even send their  friends and family in your direction.

When someone approaches you with a question about cameras, you’re ready to lead them in the right direction for what products will work for their needs. And they’re ready to take your advice, and go buy those products.

Why is that?

According to a recent expert panel, it’s because you have knowledge and experience related to those products.

We surveyed more than 1,000 industry professionals on their recommendation behavior: where recommendations happen, why they occur, how often and with whom. The responses provide important insights to brands looking to reach consumers on a more trusted level.

This panel of ExpertVoice members — people we refer to as experts — range from knowledgeable retail sales associates to experienced pros. And in an average week, more than half of them are making product recommendations 11-20 times per week. In fact, 24% of respondents give more than 30 product recommendations every single week.

number of recommendations

Where are they doing it? Most recommendations happen in a retail setting or at the location where an activity takes place — like on the trail, at a gym or on the slopes.

Since most experts are recommending products either at work or while participating in an activity like running or wakeboarding, let’s examine some of the finer details behind those recommendations.

What inspires a recommendation

Experts learn about products in multiple ways: reading about them, watching product videos, working in a retail store, or even from a mentor. In an overwhelming majority, 92% of experts state that having experience with products furthers their education.

Before making recommendations, experts say there a few things that must be in place. Knowledge and personal experience with the product are paramount, and knowledge of the brand and its category are also important. Interestingly enough, fewer than half of experts feel a brand’s reputation is important in recommending a product, leading us to believe that while people can develop loyalty to a brand, when it comes to helping someone find the right item for their needs, the specific product is more important than the brand name associated.

Back to photography: Let’s consider why you would make a recommendation. Perhaps you asked a pro photographer friend which tripod has served her well during her travels. Then you decided to test it for yourself and take it on a family vacation. Maybe you shared your thoughts with friend about to take a trip, or loved it so much you mentioned your new favorite travel tripod in an Instagram post.

According to the surveyed experts, the most important factor in likelihood to recommend a product is having a positive experience using the product.

Finally, we asked the panel about their motivation behind giving a recommendation. It might be easy to assume that financial incentive is the strongest motivation, but the panel reveals a different story. When asked what the best reward for providing a recommendation is, 52% of respondents state that it’s sharing their passion and expertise with others, and 35% state that it’s learning the recipient (who received a recommendation, and eventually purchased) used and loved the product. And even though 60% of respondents work in retail, only 1% claim that a commission was the best reward.

What this means for brands

There are people out there giving recommendations every week (many of them in excess of 30 recommendations every single week) — people whose recommendations drive consumers to make a purchase. As evidenced by the panel’s responses, experience and knowledge about a product or brand are critical to an expert, and the brands who take the opportunity to influence a consumer’s purchase through educated consideration not only sell more product. They develop loyal customers who in turn become educated recommenders.

Written By

Jen Robinson , Content Strategist

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