The pursuit of authenticity: consumers, the real influencers

Joe Rohrlich, Executive Vice President, GM EMEA, Bazaarvoice 

While the retail landscape has arguably transformed over the past decade, in many ways the way we shop has fundamentally stayed the same. Consumers are, and always have been, in pursuit of authentic opinions – word-of-mouth – to inspire and validate their purchasing decisions.

The biggest difference today is in how consumers discover those opinions. Where previously we might have exchanged perspectives with friends over coffee, brands now have the opportunity to facilitate that conversation digitally and at a much larger scale. Consumer-generated content, such as peer reviews, are transforming how we shop and have quickly become a minimum expectation for shoppers before qualifying a purchase.

Combine that scale with the rise in direct-to-consumer brands, such as Airbnb and Uber, and consumers will anticipate more transparency and real-time access to data than ever before.

Increased certainty

You may have the best marketing in the game, but today’s shoppers are overwhelmed by traditional marketing and advertising. Consumers crave authenticity, and savvy consumers are well versed in spotting authentic content, with a Nielsen study finding that 66 per cent of shoppers trust other consumers more than any other form of marketing communications.

Customer content – the ratings, reviews, images and comments of existing product users – shows shoppers that real people, just like them, have purchased and enjoyed your products. With decreased uncertainty comes increased conversion.

Purchases that inspire loyalty

Today, brands and retailers are under pressure to adapt. Acquiring new shoppers and engaging those shoppers on increasingly fragmented buying journeys is the crucial challenge.

In a recent study we conducted, 50 per cent of consumers said that personalisation is very useful and improves the shopping experience. Brands could turn to behavioural data for this insight, but what is far more powerful is real customer content.

While it may be near impossible to predict every step in a shopper’s journey, leading brands are focused on ensuring they present the type of content consumers crave along all the likely paths to purchase: from online search to in-store browsing.

Looking to the future

Retail is going through its most exciting transformation yet. We need to be thinking more about how online trends and information can inform and hyper-localise the physical experience.

Online, this might look like product recommendations or curated home pages. In-store, it could take the form of digital fitting rooms, product customisation, or store associates who can pull up information on previous purchases or saved items.

This is something we’re already starting to see, with the launch of Amazon’s new physical store concept, which promises to stock only the products that are best-rated among shoppers.

The worlds of online and offline are converging at a rapid pace. Retailers need to be agile to harness the opportunities of changing consumer behaviours. Those who prioritise customer content will get ahead of the competition in establishing shopper loyalty.

Download our smart marketer’s guide to finding and using customer insights or visit


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