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Want To Drive Brand Trust? Apparel Shoppers Prefer Peer Reviews to ‘Expert’ Advice

While the spread of COVID-19 has created an uncertain environment on a global scale, retailers more than ever must capture the trust of the shopper if they want to thrive. Consumers want to feel secure in their choice to purchase a product, be confident it will meet their expectations, and have faith in who they’re buying from. In fact, two out every three shoppers choose product based on brand reputation, according to the 2020 Bazaarvoice Shopper Experience Index.

But retailers need to be smart about how they build this sense of trust—ethical drivers (including integrity, dependability and purpose) are three times more important to company trust than competence, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, a credibility survey cited by Bazaarvoice.

Though more than three-quarters (78 percent) of surveyed consumers trust product reviews, this trust remains nuanced, especially when considering who is doing the reviewing. Just 22 percent of apparel consumers would actually prefer subject-matter expert reviews over those produced by their consumer peers, making them the least likely to go to an expert instead of a family member or friend for advice.

These apparel shoppers are more closed off to subject matter experts than their beauty shopper counterparts (33 percent) and are far behind electronics shoppers (44 percent).

While apparel sales have largely declined during the coronavirus pandemic due to mass store closures, shoppers still can take advantage of the resale market, especially as more consumers look for supplemental income, the survey reported.

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Suzin Wold, senior vice president of marketing at Bazaarvoice, noted that the economic uncertainties and increasing unemployment rates tied with the pandemic “could easily lead to a rise in recommerce on third-party platforms, such as Depop and Goat, as shoppers go through their closet and look to sell clothes and shoes they can part with.”

In fact, 62 percent of survey respondents said they have made a purchase from a resale marketplace.

“This practice has been so normalized that brands and retailers have begun to take part as well,” Wold told Sourcing Journal. “The more prominent this movement becomes, the more brands that will participate, and it may be something we see more of from large companies going forward.”

Beyond the growth of the resale fashion market, apparel retailers must take advantage of shoppers’ gravitation toward social media as a shopping destination.

In the past year, 45 percent of respondents said they had purchased a product through a social media platform, while 41 percent had purchased a product an influencer had recommended. The current shift in shopping habits over the past two months should give brands more insight to determine how social commerce, particularly platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or TikTok, plays a role in their overall e-commerce strategy while the brand shifts into a supporting role.

“As many companies are only able to sell digitally at the moment, now is the time for brands and retailers to put their full weight behind social media, if they have not done so already,” Wold said. “This is a time to make lemonade out of lemons, and try out a variety of ways to use and drive your consumers to purchase from your social channels.”

Bazaarvoice collected survey responses from 5,500 consumers and behavioral data from more than one billion monthly shoppers and six million Influenster community members to create the index.