Consumers are facing an over-saturated environment where they are bombarded with messaging and product placement, making the purchase decision-making process increasingly difficult and frustrating. Influencers and algorithms have provided some direction on how to navigate the plethora of choices, but confidence in these models is also waning as 85 per cent of Americans find influencers inauthentic and unreliable.1
The wisdom of online communities offer an alternate approach, and consumers are catching on. On Reddit, every second an average of two people ask for a recommendation, each yielding an average of 19 responses.2 For every question, from “What video games would you recommend for couples” to “What to drink when off the booze”, there’s a community to help. Here, guidance from a user carries credibility not because of follower counts, but because of shared experience or expertise. And it’s why 77 per cent of US Reddit users are thankful for product recommendations from strangers.3
Our latest research explores this behaviour to better understand the role recommendations on Reddit play in driving purchase decisions. First, we broke down why community recommendations, that harness the power of the collective, are so influential. Then, by identifying patterns across recommendation conversations and subsequent user behaviour we established the impact a successful recommendation had on subsequent actions, like making a purchase.
The result offers insights for marketers looking to get in front of their audiences as they get closer to the pointy-end of their decision making, and add value to the consumer’s purchase journey, to ultimately become part of the recommendation engine themselves. Let’s dive in.
The analysis in this report is based on a semiotic analysis of millions of online Reddit posts from January 1 to December 31, 2022 as well as an online survey of 12,250 US, UK, Canadian, German and Australian residents aged 18-65+ years old conducted in March 2023. All respondents reported regular usage of either Reddit, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn, defined as using the respective platform at least once per month. The respondent sample was weighted using population parameters from the census bureau population parameters for each country.
Online communities as a “Recommendation Economy”
The recommendation economy is a foundational part of why so many people visit Reddit on a daily basis.4 Nearly all users (94 per cent) have engaged with recommendation content in the last year and reviewing recommendations is decidedly the most popular activity on the platform (86 per cent). 4 In fact, 78 per cent of redditors use the platform for recommendations more than once a month, far higher than their use of Google, Amazon, Consumer Reports, influencers, or salespeople for recommendations.5
There is a give-and-take across questions posed and answers provided. 46 per cent of redditors have posted requesting a recommendation like “what shoes last the longest on NYC pavement?” and almost the same number (48 per cent) have shared a recommendation on a product or service4 , such as “La Roche Posay changed my life”.
Community-powered recommendations: an alternative influencer model
More than three quarters (78 per cent) of those who requested recommendations on Reddit reported being “very” or “extremely satisfied” with the responses they received from fellow redditors.4 For those reading and reviewing recommendations, 93 per cent were more than satisfied with the responses they found. 4 That’s why 66 per cent of redditors who asked for a recommendation went on to ask for additional recommendations more than once a month4 , and why 78 per cent of redditors overall used the platform for recommendations more than once a month— a higher rate than any other recommendation channel.5 This has a long-term impact as well; in the next year, 91 per cent of Reddit users plan to return to the platform with the same or increased frequency when considering an upcoming purchase.6
We all know that a recommendation is only as good as its associated action, and on Reddit, 73 per cent of users “follow the guidance of the recommendations they receive on the platform” more than a professional list, such as a Consumer Report (72 per cent), a store employee or salesperson (66 per cent), an influencer’s recommendation (52 per cent), a TV ad (51 per cent) or a celebrity endorsement (42 per cent).6
Community recommendations drive new customers
There is a clear credibility in human-powered (and upvoted) recommendations to instil confidence in consumers and shorten the path to purchase, as 38 per cent of this audience reported making a quicker purchase decision after receiving a recommendation on Reddit, which is more than the other recommendation sources surveyed.4
For many, this collective and human-powered approach offers a way to validate or verify a fad or trend seen elsewhere, with 82 per cent of beauty enthusiasts, for example, claiming that Reddit has helped them verify a viral product actually works.7 For others, it’s a way to get hyper informed and specific, and hear from like-minded people on things like choosing sunscreen for sensitive and acne-prone skin or help diagnosing very specific plant issues in r/plantclinic (see: Help! I’ve killed every orchid I’ve loved). When contextual information is lacking from traditional advertising, Reddit communities can bridge the gap.
…And build brand loyalty
Whether seeking validation or starting from scratch, the vast majority of Reddit users (75 per cent)8 are open to new ideas or solutions and they’re more likely to “consider a new brand or product” when they see it on Reddit, which is higher than when on any other recommendation platform.4 What’s more, 57 per cent agree they “learned something new” through recommendations on Reddit, which is more than users of Amazon reviews, Google results, influencers, salespeople or publication lists.4
Once they’ve found a brand or product they love, redditors are extremely loyal. 79 per cent of users agree with the statement “once I find a brand I like, I stay loyal to that brand” (and that’s 10 per cent more than the competitive average).9 Regular Reddit users* also drive the highest repeat purchase behaviour across all recommendation platforms, with 29 per cent reporting that they’ve purchased from the same store or brand “most of the time or every time” in the last 6 months.9 This is also 10 per cent higher than the competitive average.9
Fast Facts: The Reddit recommendation engine by vertical10
- In tech and computing categories on Reddit, recommendations make up 22 per cent of total posts, the largest of any category. This followed by recommendation posts in the healthy living category which make up 15 per cent of total posts.
- On average, recommendation prompts in the sports category will yield 72 replies (the most across any category), and the fastest average response time.
- News and education categories see the next highest number of average replies, with 30 per post.
- Entertainment and gaming categories see the highest number of recommendation posts per hour (245 and 318, respectively).
- Entertainment and gaming categories also see the highest number of recommendation posts per minute (5 and 4, respectively).
1Entribe, State of UGC; US, n=819, 18+ year old, April 2022
2Reddit Internal Data, Global, Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2022
3Suzy Primary Research, February 2022 (n=500)
4Reddit Custom Survey, US, UK, AUS, CA, DE, n=4,500, Mar 2023
5Reddit Custom Survey, US, UK, AUS, CA, DE, n=3,750, Mar 2023=
6Reddit Custom Survey, US, UK, AUS, CA, DE, n=4,000, Mar 2023
7Reddit/Attest, US, “Let’s talk about shopping!” n=1000, 50% M18+, 50% F18+, March 2023
8GlobalWebIndex, US data, Q1–Q4 2022
9Reddit Custom Survey, US, “Your Everyday Purchases”, n=1000, A18-64, May 2023
10Reddit Internal Data, Global, 2023 *Regular Reddit users are defined as “using Reddit very frequently or frequently in the past month,” representing 69 per cent of overall Reddit users.
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