Which people have the greatest influence on consumer decisions? A new study shows that “micro-influencers,” individuals who work in a specific category or are seen as a trusted source, drive consumer buying behavior in a surprisingly effective manner. The study found that 82% of consumers surveyed reported that they were highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer. These influencers have up to 22.2 times more conversations each week regarding recommendations on what to buy versus an average consumer.
Wharton School marketing professor Dr. Jonah Berger and marketing experts from the Keller Fay Group surveyed 6,000 random members from Experticity’s community of influential category experts about the number of product-related conversations they have with consumers each week compared to a control group of average consumers. Then consumers who received those recommendations were surveyed to measure the outcome.
“In the democratized world of the Internet, everyone has a forum to give their opinion on just about anything,” said Tom Stockham, CEO at Experticity. “When anyone can give an opinion, regardless of how much they know about the subject, the real question becomes whose recommendation is authentic and credible? Marketers must understand this in order to figure out how to cut through the noise.”
The study says that 94% of consumers surveyed believe micro-influencers are more credible and knowledgeable than average persons. In terms of who is better at explaining how the product works, 92% of responders voted for micro-influencers. The study also found that 74% of influencers encourage people to “buy it or try it” compared to 66% of the general population.
“The growing importance of influencer marketing has led marketers to openly question exactly how impactful word of mouth is when coming from different types of consumers,” said Dr. Berger. “This study has helped illuminate who has the greatest impact and why, which is a great tool for marketers as they try to harness the power of influencer marketing.”
Brands can opt to work with micro-influencers in lieu of celebrity endorsements or pricey social media shout-outs. Using social media platforms, they can cultivate and engage a key group of users with dedicated followings to spread their influence.