Research finds real-life ratings and reviews trump influencer or celebrity-led endorsements

The new study indicates that consumer purchase decisions are impacted more so by authentic UCG from regular consumers as opposed to anything else.

Almost nine in 10 consumers say their purchase decisions are more significantly impacted by reviews and ratings from ‘regular’ people rather than those from influencers or celebrities.

Over half of those surveyed by customer experience platform Emplifi (58%) also place high-value on additional user generated content (UGC) like product pictures or videos posted by customers when researching products online.

There is an additional desire for product or service reviews to feel authentic, with 71% of online shoppers agreeing that the perceived authenticity of ratings and reviews makes a real difference in their purchasing decisions.

Chief of Strategy at Empilfi, Kyle Wong, said: “There's no better way to demonstrate brand authenticity than by putting organic customer experiences front and centre. Brands that are already leveraging UGC are seeing measurable results.

“The key is to make this content easily accessible on your product pages so customers can conduct their research right on your website without having to visit other sites to find authentic customer reviews.

“Celebrity testimonials are costly and, ironically, don't have the same impact as content from a real-life customer which is great news for brands. Marketers are able to maximise their budget by doubling down on content customers are creating free of charge that significantly impacts purchasing decisions."

These results highlight the necessity for marketers to build a sound customer review strategy, with an emphasis on prioritising real-life responses as opposed to celebrity or influencer-led endorsements.

Product research trends

Emplifi’s study confirmed that product research plays a significant role in the buyer’s journey across all consumers. Combining respondents from Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z found that 95% of consumers research products priced between £5 and £20 on one or more sites.

For these cheaper purchases, marketplaces were found to be the most common platforms for research, while for purchases in excess of £100, search engines are most frequently relied upon.

Wong said with the current levels of inflation and threat of recession, shoppers are becoming increasingly discerning with how they spend their money and are willing to invest time in researching products of all prices.

He added: “Brands should be mindful of this shift and employ an omnichannel approach, leveraging product reviews and information on the brand website, marketplace product listings, YouTube videos, blog posts, and any other channel popular with their audience.

“The modern consumer is savvy and willing to visit several websites to feel confident about their purchase.”