Why and how social proof influences consumers
When consumers think about buying a product or service, they don’t just consider ads, features, and benefits. They also strongly consider the social proof that reinforces those messages and claims.
Social proof — reviews, social likes, online mentions, and testimonials for products, services, or brands — has a powerful psychological effect on customers. Because the feedback comes from other consumers, not the brand itself, the positive messaging surrounding a product or service can be perceived as more authentic and trustworthy. Consumers see social proof as an endorsement from their peers saying that the company, service, or product is great, and that the overall customer journey has satisfied previous shoppers.
__So when customers see trust signals — visual representations of social proof such as badges, ratings, reviews, and logos — it understandably elicits a strong influence on shopping behaviour. __
According to our recent research, almost all consumers (98%) could identify at least one type of trust symbol that increased their likelihood to make a purchase.
If brands want to effectively turn interested prospects into paying customers, they need to take advantage of external validation in order to influence potential customers, and understand how social proof impacts the way consumers make purchasing decisions.
To find out exactly how social proof influences the purchasing process and which trust signals are the most important, we surveyed nearly 1,700 consumers across multiple regions (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and many European countries) and generations (baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials, and Gen Zers), and found that:
- An average of sixty-six percent of customers said the presence of social proof increased their likelihood to purchase a product.
- Positive star ratings and reviews were the most important trust symbol. Eighty-two percent said it made them more likely to make a purchase.
- Positive star ratings and reviews on the homepage were the trust signals most likely to drive customers to make a purchase (86%). Positive star ratings and reviews on a product page were the second most likely, influencing 85% of customers.
- Customers prefer different trust signals throughout the buying journey. Media mentions (52%) and endorsements from public figures (50%) were effective when customers performed initial online research, while testimonials (60%) and star ratings and reviews (50%) were effective when customers compared different retailers.
Want to learn more? Let’s dive deeper into the research to see which signals are most important to consumers, and how the appearance of signals affects different demographics during the purchasing process.
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