Almost two-thirds of online shoppers shun celebrity influencers when shopping online and more than six in ten (61 per cent) feel that celebrity influencers are out of date, according to the latest research released today by Bazaarvoice, a provider of online ratings and reviews solutions.
As the world celebrates the birth of Master Archie, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new royal baby, the research suggests that the much-reported “Meghan effect” may be diminishing, with only 5 per cent of Aussies saying their purchasing habits are influenced by royals.
Fashion and lifestyle bloggers have a larger influence on consumer purchasing behaviour than royals, models, actors or sportspeople with one in five shoppers turning to bloggers to help inform shopping decisions.
But its everyday shoppers who have the greatest power to sway buyers according to Bazaarvoice.
Bazaarvoice managing director APAC Kate Musgrove said: “The message to retailers and brands is clear: improving the functionality of the online retail experience to include shopper reviews is the most powerful way of keeping customers on the path to purchase.
“A well thought-out digital strategy may put a product at the top of people’s Instagram feed, but the presence of reviews and the opinions of people just like them is what will seal the deal.”
The research looked at the shopping habits, preferences and behaviours of more than 1,300 Australians and found that more than 80 per cent of people seek out other shoppers’ reviews before making an online purchase.
The proportion is growing year-on-year with an eight per cent increase in the number of people using shopper reviews when compared to 12 months ago.
The findings are even more pronounced in female shoppers, with almost one in five women reading more reviews than 12 months ago.
According to Ms Musgrove, the research highlights the growing importance of authenticity in consumer marketing.
She explained: “Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ Campaign launched in 2006 started a marketing revolution where consumers applauded and voted with their wallets for authenticity.
“This has been shown to be closely linked to trust.
“If a consumer can see real authentic feedback or photos they will trust the brand more than if they see a heavily filtered and airbrushed photo.
“If a retailer opens itself up to user-generated content in the form of reviews – good and bad – this will instil greater trust from shoppers.”
The research found that nearly 40 per cent of people say that the most important aspect of a review is knowing about other shoppers’ experiences of the product, with the same amount using reviews to validate their purchasing decision.
Also, 34 per cent agree that reviews give them information on whether a product is good value.
Bazaarvoice also asked survey respondents if they felt confident in their ability to spot a fake review.
Alarmingly, only 16 per cent of shoppers felt completely confident that they would be able to spot a fake review.
A further 63 per cent have had doubts about the authenticity of some reviews whilst 22 per cent admitted they wouldn’t know a fake review from a real one.
Ms Musgrove expanded: “Fake reviews can be tricky to weed out but there are a few things to look out for.
“A large number of positive reviews date stamped on the same day is one indicator and the language is often another giveaway.
“The descriptors may not sound typical of people making that purchase.
“A look at the profile might shed further light – strange avatars, peculiar names or if they have not made many reviews but have made a lot of positive reviews in quick succession, should ring alarm bells.”
As part of its review services Bazaarvoice provides authenticity services and measures to help ensure that review content is authentic, so consumers can feel confident knowing that they can trust reviews in the era of fake news.
Additional findings from the research:
- Both women and men are both most influenced by ‘People Like Me’
- Of celebrity and quasi-celebrity influencers, the research found that men are most responsive to bloggers (14.4 per cent), sportspeople (14.2 per cent) and well-known business people (11.3 per cent)
- For women, bloggers (23 per cent) and models (11 per cent) carried most power in influencing purchasing
- Politicians are the least well-received influencers, with just under 3 per cent of all respondents favouring them. Male respondents answered more than double in favour of politicians (4.1 per cent) compared with women (1.9 per cent).
Ms Musgrove concluded, “The retail environment is evolving quickly and retailers cannot afford to fall behind in their adoption of trends such as personalisation and user-generated content.
“The rise of organic influencers is also another key trend based on authenticity where an influencer becomes an advocate that promotes a product based on their genuine love of a brand.
“Micro influencers – those with around 3,000 followers in a niche area – are also becoming increasingly important for brands and retailers to engage with.
“Shoppers are becoming increasingly savvy and can now see past paid promotions and flattering filters, and are seeking out candid and relatable content to inform purchasing decisions.”