The Link Between Credible Advice and Purchasing Decisions

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INTRODUCTION:

In a market overwhelmed by options and opinions to consider, there’s a radical shift in what drives purchasing decisions. With fake reviews, paid endorsements and AI-generated content on the rise, genuine guidance on what to buy is now a rare commodity.

While reviews and recommendations remain impactful, there’s a growing demand for trusted voices to provide clarity amidst the noise.

ExpertVoice, a platform designed to connect brands with communities of influence across various industries, conducted a study with The Harris Poll to understand what factors are shaping modern shopping behaviors — and how brands can navigate this changing landscape.

This report* explores the rise in consumer skepticism, the significance of credibility in commerce and the pivotal role authenticity plays in consumer decision-making. In this era, celebrity influencers aren’t hitting the mark anymore, prompting a search for more trustworthy sources of product guidance.

Genuine guidance on what to buy is now a rare commodity.
PART 1: OPTION OVERWHELM: THE STRUGGLE OF MODERN CONSUMER DECISION-MAKING

Today’s shopper is inundated by endless products to consider, information to review and opinions to evaluate. While an abundance of choice might appear to be a good thing, more options only create less certainty and put the burden on shoppers to make sense of it all.

FEEL TOO MANY OPTIONS MAKE SHOPPING FEEL MORE OVERWHELMING

According to the survey, four in 10 (44%) of consumers feel too many options make shopping feel more overwhelming than in the past. Furthermore, one in three admit they struggle to navigate the choices and research needed to make the best decision.

When do these feelings become the most intense? According to the study, research and validation emerge as the most daunting stage of the shopping journey. And it’s easy to understand why:

Almost six in 10 (57%) feel compelled to continually cross-compare options while shopping online

Nearly half (48%) confess to feeling buyer’s remorse after purchase, believing a better alternative may exist

Nearly 2 in 3 consumers (64%) feel anxious about purchasing without reading reviews

Top overwhelming shopping stages

Gen Z are currently 18-26   Millennials are currently 27-42 

In an effort to make the right choice, people go to great lengths to research and evaluate products. Consumers turn to the review section for reassurance, spending an average of 20 minutes reading at least 11 reviews before considering a purchase

PART 2: CONSUMER SKEPTICISM CONTINUES TO RISE

In their search for information to guide decision-making, shoppers encounter a multitude of fake reviews, paid endorsements, false advertising and misinformation, making it difficult to know who or what to trust. In fact, the majority of Americans (82%) report feeling like they’re “wading through a maze of deceit” while shopping.

As skepticism rises, shoppers are reconsidering who and what guides their decision-making. In a review-saturated world, consumers are careful about what they trust — nearly nine in 10 (87%) say they are selective about which product reviews they take into account. Meanwhile, 83% report being aware that certain companies pay for good reviews.

Nine in 10 shoppers say they are selective about which product reviews they take into account.”

Rising distrust of social media influencers is also reshaping the recommendation landscape, with eight in 10 (81%) saying that they are skeptical of influencers, as they often lack expertise in what they are trying to sell.

PART 3: LOW-QUALITY REVIEWS DIMINISH TRUST

The complexity of this shopping journey, coupled with the influx of fake or fabricated product information, leads to overwhelm, mistrust and decision fatigue, causing shoppers to abandon their carts or question their purchases after the fact.

Over a third (36%) of shoppers admit to abandoning purchases due to an overwhelming array of choices, leaving them unable to decide. The nature of today’s shopping experience has negatively impacted 100% of respondents, each reporting adverse effects from overwhelming shopping situations.

What have you experienced as a result of overwhelming shopping experiences?

The presence of low-quality and outdated reviews significantly diminishes trust and willingness to purchase from a brand. Seven in 10 (72%) consumers agree that featuring credible product reviews strongly impacts brand perception.

WHEN ASKED WHAT NEGATIVELY IMPACTS YOUR TRUST OR WILLINGNESS TO PURCHASE FROM A BRAND?

Low number or lack of reviews

Old reviews

Reviews w/poor grammar or spelling

Low number or lack of UGC

PART 4: CONSUMERS CRAVE EXPERTISE TO GUIDE DECISION-MAKING

In today’s consumer landscape, authenticity appears to be among the most important drivers shaping purchasing decisions. Consumers seek genuine advice from individuals with firsthand experience and expertise. Expert opinions hold significant weight, with 77% valuing advice from experts for clarity and assurance in a crowded marketplace.

Trends tell us consumers want more:

Credibility is driving commerce, with genuine guidance from trusted expert sources shaping positive shopping experiences. ‘Experts,’ ranging from retail staff to industry professionals, rank among the most trusted sources for shopping advice, second only to recommendations from close friends and family. 72% of shoppers affirm that when e-commerce sites feature reviews from credible experts, it affects how they see a brand.

Data highlights the impact of credibility:

Agree that expert reviews alleviate skepticism

Acknowledge altering purchasing decisions based on expert recommendations

Report benefiting from credible expert advice when making shopping decisions

In today’s consumer landscape, authenticity appears to be among the most important drivers shaping purchasing decisions. Consumers seek genuine advice from individuals with firsthand experience and expertise. Expert opinions hold significant weight, with 77% valuing advice from credentials for clarity and assurance in a crowded marketplace.

CONCLUSION

In a culture overrun with options and opinions, consumer overwhelm is palpable. Shoppers don’t need more information, they need high-quality information from credible sources to cut through the noise.

Given the skepticism surrounding reviews and influencer endorsements, brands must reconsider their storytellers. With 77% of Americans distrusting social media influencers, experts emerge as the most reliable source of buying advice. Brands prioritizing quality over quantity in influencer strategies and engaging with niche communities to build product advocacy are positioned to succeed amidst these shifts in buying behaviors.

In a marketplace flooded with advertisements, authenticity reigns as the currency of trust. Brands must adapt to resonate with discerning consumers, offering genuine connections and reliable guidance.

 

*This study was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of ExpertVoice from January 3rd to January 8th, 2024. All 2,005 respondents based in the United States, are adults ages 18 and older. 

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