Influencers affect the shopping habits of Gen Z and millennials more than any other generation. An August 2019 survey from GlobalWebIndex confirmed this when it found that 22 percent of Gen Z and 20 percent of millennial respondents in the US and UK were inspired to make a purchase after seeing an influencer or celebrity’s post on social media while 16 percent were inspired to shop after seeing an Instagram stories ad.
Gen X and Boomers don’t rely as heavily on influencers to make purchases as 16 percent of Gen X and six percent of Boomers, respectively, bought something after seeing an influencer or celebrity’s post about it.
Influencers play a huge role in brand discovery worldwide as 31 percent of global internet users said one of the primary reasons they use social media is to research and find products to buy, up 23 percent from 2015. Between 2015 and 2019, the number of Gen Z who used social media to research brands and products jumped nearly 40 percent.
During that same time, video sites as a product research tool increased by 32 percent, while vlogs grew by 38 percent. For brand discovery, about 16 percent of global internet users said they use social media posts or reviews from expert bloggers versus 14 percent who use vlogs.
More than increase brand discovery, influencers drive action: 33 percent of respondents said they have shopped directly via an influencer’s social media post that led them to a retailer’s website.
Despite the aforementioned, younger generations trust product reviews and recommendations from friends and family more than they do influencers. When asked what inspired them to make a purchase in the last month, 48 percent cited a discount on a product followed by recommendation from friends and family (39 percent), an online ad (28 percent), an email or newsletter from a brand (20 percent), a social media ad on the news feed (17 percent) and an influencer or celebrity social media post (17 percent).
The survey also found that consumers don’t perceive big follower counts as the most credible. Amid the unchecked influencer fraud problem, 48 percent of consumers cite trustworthiness as the most desirable quality for influencers to have. Consumers actually trust smaller influencers more—56 percent of US and UK respondents think that influencers with up to 50,000 followers are the most credible. A Morning Consult report in November 2019 also found that only 10 percent of younger generations ranked having a large following as very important.
GlobalWebIndex interviewed 2,767 respondents in the US and 3,568 respondents in the UK. The findings mentioned here reflect a mixture of the researcher’s bespoke study in the US and UK as well as global data from its ongoing quarterly global research.