WOM: Recommendations from Family & Friends Still Hold Great Sway

October 17, 2022

Influencers may be all the rage these days, particularly with youth, but nothing beats a good old recommendation from family or friends. So finds Ipsos in its What the Future: Spending report [download page].

The study reveals that more than 7 in 10 (71% of) adults surveyed have bought products or services based on recommendations from family, while about two-thirds (66%) have done so on account of recommendations from close friends.

There’s then a sharp drop to the other recommendation sources listed. About 4 in 10 (39%) have made a purchase based on an acquaintance’s recommendation, while about the same share (38%) have done so due to a recommendation from someone working in the store or for the company, while fewer say the same about social media sources.

As it stands, recommendations from companies or brands on social media have moved 35% of respondents to make a purchase, while groups on social media (such as Reddit boards, Facebook groups, etc.) have had that impact on 28%, and individual influencers on 27%.

Of course, it’s not surprising that friends and family hold more influence than… influencers, as has generally been the case. Friends and family remain the most trusted sources for brand information, much more so than social media platforms.

Still, many youth are making purchases based on social media recommendations. A slim majority (54%) of the combined Gen Z and Millennial bracket report having bought products or services based on recommendations from companies or brands on social media, while 45% have as a result of recommendations from individual influencers on social media, and 44% due to recommendations from groups on social media.

It’s also worth noting that both the youngest generations and Gen Xers were more likely than Boomers and older adults to say they’d made purchases as a result of any of the recommendation types listed.

This brings to mind research from several years ago, in which Millennials appeared to be more influenced by word-of-mouth than Baby Boomers, while the latter were more reliant on advertising than the younger generation.

Other Report Highlights:

  • US adults are more likely to say that how they spend today is impacted by the economy in its current state than by where they think the economy is headed in the future.
  • In each product category measured, a majority of respondents said they preferred to buy in-store rather than online.
  • For Gen Z and Millennials, a company’s stance on environment and sustainability is more important to them than whether the brand manufacturers products in the US when considering which companies or brands to buy from. For Boomers and older the reverse is true.
  • 6 in 10 adults overall say that augmented reality will never replace stores or online shopping, compared to 4 in 10 who say there’s a future for shopping via augmented reality.
  • 3 in 4 believe there are products that they will always want to buy in store, compared to 1 in 4 who can see a future where they buy everything online.

About the Data: The results are based on an August survey of 1,116 US adults (18+).

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