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Younger Generations Are Less Trusting of Your Product Recommendations Than You Think

How to Build Trust Amongst Your Savviest Shoppers and Employ the Right Sources of Product Information to Help Them Make a Purchase

Social media has given influencers the clout and the space to promote products, but many consumers, especially the younger generations, doubt the credibility of their recommendations. In fact, 87% of consumers doubt that influencers even use the products that they’re selling and the most prominent skeptics are Gen Zers. Nearly all (93%) say its likely influencers don’t even use the products they sell; that’s more than any other generation. 

Trust takes time to earn and even though Gen Z and Millennials spend more time online than any other previous generation, it also means they are very well aware of how the system works. These are your savviest customers. This might be why just 14% of Gen Zers consider a social media influencer with millions of followers the most trustworthy source for product information. As a reminder, these generations are defined as:

These younger consumers have already realized that influencers might not always be the most reliable so they’re more likely to turn to sources of information they find credible. But doing that means knowing how to cut through the clutter. This article will examine how these consumer groups navigate through influencer ads, an increasing number of fake reviews, and the vast sea of product recommendations available  –  and manage to come out the other side to make more informed purchase decisions. 

A Flood of Recommendations 

If you’ve scrolled on social media recently, you’ll know that you can’t go more than a few swipes without seeing #AD and it’s only going to continue to grow as social media apps make it easier to merge user content with shopping. Consumers have to navigate through recommendations from advertisers, online reviews, and influencer-promoted content every time they log onto their favorite social media app. Perhaps it’s because they spend more time online, but younger generations feel even more overwhelmed than their older peers by what they see. In fact, more than 1 in 10 (14%) Gen Zers feel overwhelmed and 7 in 10 (70%) Millennials are at least sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of product information when shopping online – more so than any other generation. 

One of the most popular ways these consumers try to navigate through this vast wasteland of recommendations is by seeking out product reviews they can trust, however, it can be harder than it sounds. More than 1 in 5 consumers (22%) say that most or all online reviews are fake, and 62% believe at least some are fake. Although they are the most loyal when it comes to following influencers, Gen Z isn’t as devoted to social media icons as you might think. Three in 10 Gen Zers (30%) and 21% of Millennials say that most or all online reviews are fake. 

The skepticism among Gen Zers is even higher than any other generational cohort as nearly all (93%) say it’s likely influencers don’t even use the products they sell. This may be why only a small percentage of this generation considers a social media influencer with millions of followers the most trustworthy source for product information. Less than 1 in 5 (18%) say influencers are their top source of information when they are shopping, and less than half (43%) put them as one of their top 3 reliable sources. There seems to be an understanding among younger consumers that a high follower count and popularity online don’t necessarily mean someone knows what they’re doing when it comes to the products they promote. 

Followers Don’t Count When it Comes to Trust 

When it comes to credibility, these generations know what they want. More than 1 in 5 would prefer an expert with 1,000 followers and extensive product knowledge to an influencer with millions of followers. More than half (65%) of consumers would settle for a high customer rating on a product with 5,000 reviews. Although brands most likely look to partner with influencers who fit their target audience and aesthetic, it’s not always a match made in heaven especially if the pitch isn’t authentic or comes from a knowledgeable source. It’s the credibility of the review that matters the most to consumers. Consumers understand that followers can be bought but that credibility is earned leading consumers to find more trust in an expert who has a noticeably organic following and engagement. Not only that, the product needs to make sense in the hands of the person who’s recommending it. 

There are alternatives to these insta-celebs for companies wishing to boost their product’s profile. Rather than paying influencers for their followers and popularity, brands should consider experts as the bridge between product knowledge and consumers. 

For more about our survey, read the full release.

How Providing Expert Product Reviews Help Younger Shoppers Cut Through the Clutter

For a dependable way to cut through the glut of information available to consumers when making purchases, the majority (51%) say all they really need is an expert demonstrating how to use a product to be confident in their purchase, including 63% of Millennials and 55% of Gen Z. Experts can give consumers insight into the way a product actually works on a day-to-day basis and on a level that feels more authentic. 

It’s not just about recommending a product, younger generations want to hear from someone who’s genuinely passionate about what they’re using. 53% of consumers choose product experts as a source of reliable information before making a purchase, including Millenials and Gen Z. Consumers don’t just want information about the product’s features, but they also want to know what it’s like to use the product in the real world. The way a product functions in a person’s routine is worth a lot more to consumers than a surface-level recommendation. 

With experts, you don’t just get trustworthy product reviews and information, you also get access to the years of experience they’ve earned by honing their craft. It’s the biggest difference between influencers and experts. 62% of consumers that purchased a product because a social media influencer promoted it are significantly more likely to agree than those who have not, that an expert product demonstration is all they need.


Although Millennials and Gen Zers consume the most content, they’re also at the forefront of creating it. It’s not surprising that they know exactly what’s going on. They realized pretty quickly that influencers aren’t always a trustworthy source of information especially when it comes to product knowledge. They cut through the clutter by preferring to get their product knowledge from friends, family, and experts. Brands should take advantage of this insight by adding expert-driven product recommendations into their marketing mix and making expert reviews available to their shoppers. 

For more survey results, download our infographic.

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