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Influencer marketing content can certainly hold sway over consumers, in particular youth, but it doesn’t appear to have nearly the same power as a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member. In fact, a recent study from SurveyMonkey finds that US consumers are more than 5 times as likely to have made a big purchase due to a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member (65%) than as a result of seeing an online influencer own or endorse the product/service (12%).

It is interesting to note, though, that online influencers appear to have more, shall we say, influence, than traditional celebrities. A celebrity owning or endorsing a product has led to a big purchase for half as many US respondents as an online influencer doing the same (7% and 12%, respectively).

But Millennials Are Influenced by Influencers, Right?

The survey results do indicate that younger adults are more receptive to online influencer endorsements – such as those found on Instagram, YouTube and blogs – than are other adults. For example, a sizable 22% of 18-34-year-olds surveyed said they’d made a large purchase because they saw an online influencer using or endorsing the item. That compares with just 9% of 35-64-year-olds and 2% of those 65 and older.

However it’s also true that younger adults also place more stock in recommendations from friends and family than do their older counterparts. Seven in 10 Millennials said they’d made a large purchase due to a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member, compared to 63% of non-Millennials.

This adds to a growing body of research showing that word-of-mouth has a stronger impact on younger than older adults.

The results aren’t specific to the US, either. Respondents in the UK were 4 times more times likely to have made a big purchase due to friend and family recommendations than to influencer endorsements, and those in Canada were 5 times more likely to have done so. In each case, though, online influencers reportedly held more sway than traditional celebrities, as in the US.

TV’s the Top Paid Medium

When it comes to making large purchases on account of ads, TV continues to be the top dog. One-third of adults surveyed in the US said they’d ever made a big purchase because of an ad they saw on TV. That was well ahead of the percentage who’d made such a purchase due to seeing an online ad (17%), a magazine ad (14%), or a Facebook ad (13%), among others.

These results mesh with MarketingCharts’ own research into consumers’ purchase influencers, which found recommendations from friends and family ahead of TV ads as the top overall influencers.

Meanwhile, the SurveyMonkey research unsurprisingly finds that younger respondents attribute greater purchase influence to online ads and Facebook ads than do older adults, who instead are more likely to have made a purchase due to a magazine ad.

Somewhat unexpectedly, though, 18-34-year-olds (36%) were more likely than those 65 and older (28%) to attribute a large purchase at some point to seeing a TV ad. That’s despite older adults watching a lot more traditional TV than their younger counterparts.

The full results of the SurveyMonkey study can be accessed here.

About the Data: The results are based on online surveys conducted from October 5-7, 2018 among 3,053 adults in the US (1,036), UK (1,010) and Canada (1,007). The data has been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography.

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