Influencers, celebs and athletes aren’t convincing consumers—who do we trust now?

by | Jun 26, 2018 | Public Relations

While celebrity endorsements, athlete sponsorships and influencer marketing have all been proven to raise awareness, a new consumer trust panel conducted by advocacy marketing company ExpertVoice found that these tactics aren’t effective at driving consumers to make purchases.

In today’s overcrowded marketplace, consumers are searching for trusted recommendations before making a purchase—and while 83 percent trust recommendations from friends and family, the research reveals that only 4 percent of consumers, for example, trust celebrity endorsements.

With the influencer marketing industry expected to reach $10 billion by 2020, it’s likely brands will be looking for better ways to complement their top of funnel tactics, with efforts that directly drive sales performance.

According to 57 percent of respondents, the greatest concern for consumers is the monetary compensation given to the individual from the brands they’re promoting

Additionally, in the free response section of the survey, many consumers expressed concern over what knowledge a celebrity possesses regarding the product they’re being paid to endorse. They stated that having honest, personable, and educated individuals making recommendations based on actual experience with the product is a key differentiator in determining whether they would trust a recommendation.

Said one respondent: “Paid product endorsements are meaningless. I want to learn about the product from experts who are advocating for it, not just some random person who happens to have a job that makes them well-known.”

When asked which groups they took buying advice from, an overwhelming 83 percent of respondents stated that friends and family were their top choice

Responding to the question of who they’ve taken buying advice from in the past year, 85 percent said friends and family while only 6 percent took advice from both influencers and athletes and just 2 percent from celebrities.

But there are other groups they know and trust

Fifty-four percent said they would trust the recommendation from a professional expert, like a coach or instructor, while 52 percent would trust the recommendation of coworkers. Retail associates remained neutral in this weighted scale; about 42 percent of respondents didn’t feel strongly toward the value they offered in providing a valuable recommendation. As the retail environment continues to evolve, brands will likely look for scalable ways to help sales associates share better recommendations with their customers.

“Brands spend significant marketing dollars to raise awareness and ensure they’re top of mind for the consumer,” said ExpertVoice CEO Tom Stockham, in a news release. “But the results of this panel indicate that when it comes to actually purchasing a product, consumers want a recommendation from someone they believe to be authentic. In today’s environment, celebrities, influencers and sometimes even the brands themselves aren’t viewed as trusted—so consumers are looking elsewhere.”

This data suggests a population weary of traditional advertising and paid endorsements, and gives a roadmap to brands looking to better reach their consumers through recommendations they trust.

The consumer panel, conducted by advocacy marketing company ExpertVoice, investigated the buying behavior of a weighted U.S. Census Audience of more than 500 consumers, specifically looking into who consumers trust for recommendations on what to buy. 

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


7 benefits of building authentic relationships with influencers

7 benefits of building authentic relationships with influencers

In today's digital landscape, influencer marketing stands as a formidable tool for brands aiming to reach target audiences and build brand awareness. However, just investing in popular influencers isn't enough. Consumers are looking for authenticity and can easily...

Maximizing the impact of influencer marketing on consumer behavior

Maximizing the impact of influencer marketing on consumer behavior

Influencer marketing has emerged as a pivotal strategy in modern digital advertising, leveraging the popularity and authority of individuals with large followings on social media platforms to promote products and services. Unlike traditional celebrity endorsements,...