Despite the buzz, a lot of companies are still wondering if influencer marketing could work for them. Does the influencer’s audience really trust the influencer’s recommendation? Can influencer marketing really bring in new customers and sales? And can it do it more effectively than traditional advertising?

In this blog article we will discuss the findings of some recent studies regarding what are consumers’ opinions towards influencer marketing. Because what they think and they act is what counts.

Especially younger consumers trust the opinions of influencers

Technically speaking influencer marketing should work just because people have always appreciated the opinions of trustworthy people. People such as close friends and family. So from a business perspective, a recommendation from a person you trust weighs more than the marketing speech from a company. 

But are influencers trustworthy enough when consumers are making purchase decisions? The answer is, according to studies, yes. At least among the younger generations, people can respond well to the influencers’ recommendations.

Source: Morning Consult’s The Influencer Report (2019)

For example Morning Consult conducted recently a study about 18-38 years-old American consumers’ attitudes and habits towards influencers. 

They found that “50 percent of Millennials [people born approximately between 1980 and 1996], trust influencers they follow on product recommendations, compared to 38 percent for their favorite celebrities.” 

We found similar results from our own Influencer Industry Report (2019). The research company Goldmedia interviewed over 1500 Germans about their opinions on online product information and purchase behavior regarding influencers.

The answers to the question “Which of the following forms of product information do you perceive to be particularly trustworthy?” support the notion, that the opinions from close friends an people are trusted the most. As these types of recommendations are usually not paid, they generate the most trust.

And also among the Germans the third most trustworthy source are the product endorsements from influencers. Over a third of the individuals surveyed think, that online opinion leaders can be trusted as a product information source.

Furthermore, the highest level of trust was found to be among people between 14-17 year-olds (41%) and 18-23 year-olds (35%). This also makes sense, as these younger generations have practically grown up with the age of influencers and social media. 

Traditional forms of advertising and big celebrities are not that trustworthy

The answers also support the latest trend: people don’t trust that much anymore on traditional forms of advertising.

Advertorials from brands and product recommendations from newspapers and magazines performed slightly better than advertising in the surveys But they did not do that well. So cooperating with influencers can help companies to bring back the trust that traditional advertising has lost.

However, by influencers the respondents from both studies didn’t mean just any influencers. The least trustworthy sources for product information were the stars and celebrities on social media. 

A celebrity status or millions of followers does not seem to guarantee a trust in that individual; rather on the contrary. It seems that the bigger the influencer, the less authentic he or she is seen when endorsing a product. 

Young consumers learn about new products from influencers

Source: Morning Clinic’s The Influencer Report (2019)

According to the Morning Clinic study, 88% of the respondents said they learn about the products they are interested in from social media. Furthermore, 24% of women and 16% of men learn most often about new products from influencers. 

Similar results came about also from our own report where the Germans were asked  “How was the product or service presented that you saw online?”

It turned out that almost 40% of the respondents have seen a product/service recommended by an individual online. Almost half the respondents have seen product recommendations from online videos or banners. No surprise as these two forms are still most used in online advertising. 

The low numbers for these more traditional forms of online advertising might be explained by the usage of ad blockers and ad fatigue. People have grown so used to online banners that they barely pay attention to them anymore, or block them automatically. Same goes for video ads, which the consumers can also just ignore or skip.

There is thus still room for influencer marketing to grow, at least in Germany, as only less than 40% have seen these advertisements. As influencers’ content on social media is voluntarily consumed, it can’t be blocked by ad blockers. Thus, there is a bigger change for grasping consumers’ attention with it.

Especially younger consumers buy products from influencers

Influencer marketing has often been criticized by its low impact on revenue.  And for most marketers it is hard to defend the usage of a channel if its ROI capabilities can’t be proved.

However, studies have shown that consumers are not only just getting new product information from influencers. They are also buying those products.

In the Morning Clinic study, 56% of the respondents said they had purchased a product after seeing it has been recommended by an influencer.

In our own Influencer Industry report the results were a bit more down-to-earth, but encouraging nonetheless.

16% of the individuals between 14 and 29 years old have purchased products which were recommended by influencers. That is every sixth survey participant! Even 7% of individuals between 30 and 40 years old have purchased products recommended by influencers. 

Influencer marketing can drive sales but they might not always be immediate

These studies did not ask whether or not the individuals had purchased the products immediately after seeing them. But they have done it, making influencer marketing an important channel in the consumer purchase journey.

If sales through influencer marketing do not come immediately they can be hard to measure. But does not mean that they are not happening at all. Nor does it mean that anything except instant sales is unacceptable.

It is therefore utmost important that the measurement of Influencer Marketing is developed further. Things like individual discount codes, customized links and websites are a couple of ways to make tracking sales from Influencer Marketing efforts easier. 

And if the target audience still didn’t buy, you should try remarketing efforts to convince them to return.

Conclusion: influencer marketing can work when done right

Especially for younger audiences, influencers are an important medium for new product information. And not just for information. Influencers also play an important part in the purchase decision process as more and more consumers are buying products recommended by them.

However, if your target audience’s age is way over 30, you might think that influencer marketing is nothing for you. But you need to also remember to think ahead. 

Those Millennials and Gen Z people will grow older. And then they will have a lot of purchasing power in the future. And if they have used to the recommendations from influencers, then you most likely will need influencers to attract new audiences to you.

Also, not any social media influencer is suitable for product endorsements. Big social media influencers don’t seem to possess a large level trust and authenticity when it comes to product recommendations.

Because of that, the trend in influencer marketing has been moving towards micro influencers. These individuals operating in a tighter niche can have a better brand fit and thus generate more engagement than the social media celebrities.

Would you like to know how?

If you would like to get started with micro influencer marketing, then we recommend you to read our blog post of the topic. It will explain you how are micro influencers, why they bring results than larger influencers, how to find them AND how to do a successful campaign with them!

You can also send any questions you might have to info@influry.com We will get back to you!