Less than a third trust retail influencers

More consumers trust shopping recommendations from brands than online influencers, according to new research from InternetRetailingExpo (IRX).

The omnichannel retail event commissioned Censuswide to survey 1,001 UK adults during February, finding that 45 per cent trust recommendations offered directly from a brand - online and in-store advertising, shop assistants, in-store displays - compared 29 per cent who trust online influencers like Instagrammers, YouTubers and fashion bloggers for recommendations.

Online influencers do however top the list when looking at trust by those turning to third parties for shopping recommendations, beating national newspapers (26 per cent), media celebrities (18 per cent) and fashion magazines (17 per cent).

Those aged 16-24 who have turned to others for shopping recommendations are more likely (34 per cent) to be influenced by in-store shopping recommendations from online influencers, compared to those aged 55+ (seven per cent).

“There is no denying that social media stars influence what we as consumers buy – whether it’s a new outfit, kitchen appliances, or food items in the weekly shop,” said Stuart Barker, portfolio director of IRX. “The encouraging news for marketers is that brands still have the biggest influence over purchasing, validating decisions to continually invest in their own content, websites and marketing campaigns, which in turn lead to knowing their customers better.”

The survey also found that shop assistants are valued the same as online influencers - both 24 per cent - by those who have received in-store shopping recommendations from others.

IRX suggested that providing tablet computers to staff can deliver excellent customer service, linking the online and in-store shopping experience with capabilities such as instant stock checks, reserving goods, flexible delivery and tailored shopping recommendations based on previous purchases.

The research found that men who said they trust others for shopping recommendations are nearly twice (22 per cent) as trusting of recommendations from media celebrities - including TV, film and sports stars - compared to women (12 per cent). They are also nearly twice as likely to have been influenced by celebrities when shopping in-store, with 20 per cent acting on a recommendation or endorsement, compared to just over 10 per cent of women.

Women put higher value on returns services than men, with 27 per cent disliking the inconvenience of online returns, and 72 per cent saying a reliable returns service is important to them when choosing which sites to buy from. Female shoppers rated Amazon (50 per cent), Argos (30 per cent) and Next (21 per cent) as having the best delivery and returns services.

Women are also the most reliant on brands to help their shopping experience, with 39 per cent relying recommendations from brands for online shopping. The High Street is also still highly valued by female shoppers – 42 per cent miss being able to 'experience' the product look, feel, fit when they shop online.

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