Fifty-One Per Cent of UK Consumers Trust Their Friends’ or Partner’s Recommendations More Than Any Other Brand Advertising

Wed 29th Jan

Mention Me’s third annual report into customer advocacy and referral trends reveals what motivated UK consumers to refer brands, which sectors and brands are most referrable, and which qualities were most likely to drive a brand recommendation.

Trust remains a recurrent theme throughout the results, reflecting the increasing value and influence that consumers place on transparency. Personal recommendations have become even more important, with a higher number (37 per cent) of those questioned recommending a brand in the past month, and a further 26 per cent in the past two to four months. Women are 20 per cent more likely than men to have referred in the past month.

For the third year running, friends are the most trusted source for UK consumers, with 28 per cent of all those questioned trusting a friend’s referral more than anyone else. Equally, 41 per cent of those questioned stated they’d be put off recommending a brand if a friend or family member told them not to shop there.

Trust in our partner’s recommendations has increased this year to 23 per cent of those questioned (up from 16 per cent in 2018), and with men slightly more than women (27 per cent versus 20 per cent). Trust in celebrity (two per cent) and blogger (three per cent) endorsements remain extremely low, and in politicians, only trusted by one per cent of respondents. There has been a slight decrease in trust in online reviews (11 per cent, down from 12 per cent in 2018, and 21 per cent in 2017), perhaps in response to reports of “fake” reviews.

The top two attributes that a brand needs to make them referrable, according to those questioned, remain the same from the past two years but have increased in importance, with “being trustworthy/credible” still coming up top (72 per cent, up from 49 per cent in 2018), and “great customer service” ( 63 per cent, up from 51 per cent in 2018). The third attribute this year has become “the brand being better than the competition” (51 per cent), beating the previous years’ “offering good discounts/referral offers” (46 per cent).

Loyalty is emerging as an even bigger driver for customer advocacy than in previous years. Thirty-two per cent of all those questioned chose being enrolled in a loyalty programme as the best thing a brand could do to get them to shop with them again, with a gender split of 32 per cent more women (37 per cent of those questioned) compared with men (28 per cent of those questioned) choosing this. A further 27 per cent would be swayed if the brand showed them they cared about how satisfied they were. Personalised online advertising isn’t popular, chosen by only 10 per cent, nor being shown other products (11 per cent).

Ethics matter even more than last year too, with a brand’s attitudes and behaviour around sustainability and social responsibility paramount for all respondents, but even more so for women. For those questioned, people are more likely to refer a brand:

The top three referrable sectors across every demographic in this year’s report are “Food and drink” (75 per cent), “Holidays and travel” (63 per cent) and “Technology” (52 per cent). There has, however, been an upsurge in referral across every sector with all respondents, with the sharpest increase in financial services with 49 per cent of respondents (17 per cent increase YoY). This year’s new sector, “Subscriptions”, is rated highly with 50 per cent of all respondents, and only dropping with the 55+ age group. Sector splits for referral are apparent across many sectors most markedly in:

The top five referred brands for all respondents this year were Amazon (33 per cent), Netflix (27 per cent), Aldi (22 per cent), Tesco (19 per cent) and Marks and Spencer (18 per cent). They beat John Lewis (14 per cent), Ikea (14 per cent), Nike (13 per cent) and The Range (13 per cent). It’s of little surprise that Amazon tops the list again, but the other brands rated highly not only suggest a rising importance for UK consumers in price and value, but also reflect a successful year of competitive advertising campaigns by the budget supermarkets.

“In this uncertain economic and political climate, UK consumers appear torn between being influenced by price, and by a brand’s ethics, behaviour and transparency. Going hand in hand with this is the value that the respondents place on loyalty with those they shop with, and excellent customer service. Personal recommendations through referral were chosen as the most trusted source by even more respondents this year, across each demographic. This isn’t surprising to us as trust in other forms of marketing continues to decline. Brands should respond positively to this, and realise that if they put their customers first they will be their best advocates enabling them to drive growth through referrals,” comments Andy Cockburn, CEO of Mention Me.

Mention Me’s Customer Advocacy Report with full details of the study can be found here.

Mention Me partnered with One Poll for this survey, who questioned 2,000 UK consumers. The survey was completed 14 October 2019.