Eighty-two Per Cent of Consumers Still Recommending Brands in the Pandemic
Fri 5th Feb
Groceries and Gifts see the biggest upsurge
Mention Me’s fourth annual report into customer advocacy and referral trends reveals the impact of COVID19 on brand recommendations, the sectors that have best weathered the storm or even prospered, and the most important qualities for brand referrals. Trust has remained a core theme, with three-quarters of respondents citing brands’ responses to COVID as important.
Despite the pandemic’s hit on the high street, consumers are still recommending their favourite brands. More than a third of respondents have recommended a brand in the past month, rising to 82 per cent over the past year. This is especially true for the sectors transforming our homes into places to live, work, and play. Online orders and referrals for these businesses have soared in the numerous lockdowns.
For the fourth year, friends are the most trusted source of brand recommendations across demographics, cited by 27 per cent, with women even more likely (seven per cent) to trust a recommendation from their friend than partner. Online reviews came in as the third most trusted source, an increase of 23 per cent since 2019, reflecting a growing reliance on the opinion of other consumers, rather than simply being influenced by advertising. Celebrity and blogger endorsements remain extremely low in value for all. Despite influencers taking a significant chunk of many marketing budgets, just 2.8 per cent trust influencers’ recommendations, and only one per cent trust TikTokers’.
In these uncertain times, consumers want brands they can rely on. Sixty-five per cent of consumers questioned cited trustworthiness as the most important quality for brand referral. This is followed by great customer service with 58 per cent and free delivery or returns with 51 per cent (an increase of 11 per cent from 2019). Two further brand qualities that experienced the biggest decline in value were a brand that “surprises or delights me” falling 22 per cent and “being innovative”, decreasing 17 per cent.
This year’s results also highlight a continued focus on the wider impact of our buying decisions. Consumers are increasingly aware of their environmental footprint and want to make ethical purchases they can be proud of. Thirty-two per cent consider green credentials very important when recommending brands.
The most referrable sectors across every demographic reflect the lifestyle changes brought on by the pandemic. Food and drink again topped the list (37 per cent), not unexpectedly up 10 per cent from 2019. Surprisingly, holidays and travel brand recommendations came out second with 26 per cent, perhaps as consumers planned for the future and enjoyed local staycations.
Other insights include:
- Subscription and technology brands are joint third most likely to be referred at 21 per cent.
- Although fashion is still referrable with 18 per cent of respondents, the sector has seen a drop this year of eight per cent.
- Home & garden (16 per cent) and sporting goods (17 per cent) have seen the biggest YoY increase in brand recommendations.
- Women are overall more likely to recommend brands than men, apart from in finance (32 per cent more men), technology (32 per cent more men) and sporting goods (25 per cent more men).
- Thirty-seven per cent rated loyalty programmes as one of the best ways a brand could encourage them to return.
We also asked about the impact of COVID-19 on online buying behaviour in this annual survey. The brands improving people’s home environments came out top. Groceries saw the biggest shift in buying behaviour, with 47 per cent buying more online, and 11 per cent for the first time.
- Forty-three per cent are buying more gifts online (the second biggest increase on last year).
- Forty-two per cent bought more fashion online, women leading this with 60 per cent buying more beauty online than men, 60 per cent more fashion, 32 per cent more gifting and 24 per cent more in homewares.
- Gardening items saw 28 per cent buy more online, and nine per cent buy online for the first time.
- Across all sectors, men were more likely to have bought online for the first time, in financial services at 77 per cent, holidays and travel 71 per cent, sport 57 per cent, gardening items 46 per cent.
Andy Cockburn, CEO of Mention Me, comments, “The past year has highlighted the valuable, often untapped potential of existing customers. In times like these, consumers are even more actively telling loved ones about the businesses that can support them. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, many brands have rapidly grown via these word of mouth recommendations. This is particularly true for ethical brands that garner trust; those visibly living out their values and showing they care about the world beyond themselves”.