Consumers are creating their own ‘circle of trusted influencers’
People believe it is the business of businesses to sell. And, traditional selling often employs assertions, claims and self-declarations of quality, superior taste or experience. This sets in place a bit of friction: is the claim truthful?
So trust looms even larger these days as the pivot point in purchase decisions. And today’s digital, mobile, “access to anything that can be known will be known” world has arisen as an enabler of how consumers get to trust: through validation.
According to Mintel research, scouring online reviews is an increasingly important behavior in moving to a purchase decision. Mintel reports that 70 percent of consumers generally and 82 percent of millennials specifically, seek the opinions of others before buying.
We have entered the era of Validation Marketing.
Here’s what it looks like:
Peeling the onion a bit, we find opinion seekers first turn to user review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and Trip Advisor. That said, on the consumer’s “trust-o-meter” of useful options, independent review sites like Consumer Reports and Edmunds.com are seen as even more dependable. However, at the top of the trust pyramid we discover the most reliable source of advice, according to Mintel, is the shopper’s personal social media contacts. The closer to real or perceived friend, the more trusted the source of information becomes. Very human indeed!
The principle at work here is the requirement for validation: “I’m not taking these assertions at face value anymore. I want to understand the truth of the matter. And so I look to the experiences and knowledge of others I trust as the litmus test of belief.”
Think about this: trust, validation, credibility and the role of influence lie at the front door of “yes, I’ll buy.” What does this tell us? That the building blocks of successful marketing must adjust to find a more human path to trust aggregation in support of their product or service.
This requires an organization to activate online reviews as a powerful tool; to be transparent in operations and process; to provide proof and evidence of what sits underneath their claims of quality. Simply said, to construct and build pathways to belief.
Our goal in food and beverage marketing: recognize this behavior and earn a place in the consumer’s circle of trusted influencers.
Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent Healthy Living. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies. Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.