Consumers spend £2.1bn due to misinformation

UK consumers have spent £2.1 billion on products and services due to misinformation from businesses in the last year, according to research.

A Censuswide study of 6,000 consumers across the UK, Germany and France - including 2,000 in the UK - found that as adoption of e-commerce rises, 87 per cent of people believe that misinformation is already a problem, with a majority (57 per cent) believing the problem is set to grow in the future.

The research also showed that 55 per cent of UK citizens are more concerned about the risk of misinformation now than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly three quarters (71 per cent) believing brands need to do more to tackle misinformation.

Only 41 per cent of people trust brands in general, with 45 per cent saying that brands across all industries, have a “real problem” when it comes to displaying the proper information online.

If a consumer was given inaccurate information about a brand through a search engine, most would blame the brand itself (42 per cent), rather than the search engine (20 per cent) or web browser (10 per cent), highlighting the risks of inaccurate information about products and services appearing online.

As businesses look to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic, tackling misinformation and sharing accurate answers will have a significant role to play in rebuilding trust. The survey showed that 63 per cent of consumers said correct information from a brand is closely linked to trust and that, in turn, the vast majority (71 per cent) of consumers will buy from a brand they trust.

A total of 71 per cent of respondents said brands should be taking the issue of misinformation more seriously, while it appears consumers are taking matters into their own hands, with many saying that they’ll consult another source of information when they don’t get a satisfactory response to a question online (64 per cent) and that they fact-check information provided by brands and businesses (59 per cent).

Jon Buss, EMEA managing director at Yext, said: “With more consumers than ever searching for answers about brands and products online, expectations about the accuracy of what they find have become greater than ever.

“It’s clear that the impact of inaccurate answers is costing both sides dearly, and no matter the source, no matter the medium, consumers expect brands to step up and take control of their information online - otherwise, they risk eroding consumer trust, which is ultimately bad news for the bottom line.”

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