Research and insights

Tech sales are booming – but who do consumers trust for recommendations?

Written by Claire Slobodian

15 June 2021


Our relationship with technology has changed dramatically in the past 18 months as we rely on digital tools to work, communicate, learn and connect.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that there has been also a boom in technology sales during that time: more than two million digital devices were purchased in the UK in the first two months of lockdown alone. With this in mind, it is worth asking who consumers trust when looking to buy new tech, for home, the home office or leisure.

We partnered with our sister agency Arlington Research who interviewed 6,000 consumers in seven countries about the sources they turn to when looking to buy new technology or devices. A number of results stood out, loud and clear.

Consumers want reviews from people like them

Our research shows that consumers want to know what real people think of a product as they are most likely to turn to customer reviews from everyday individuals over those from professional reviewers or journalists. When consumers are considering which personal tech devices or software to buy, half (50%) will turn to consumer reviews for their decision-making process.

Leading the pack in that mix is technology natives, the millennials, of whom nearly six (58%) are most likely to use consumer reviews to help them with their purchases. Generation X closely follows this at 50%.

While dependence on these kinds of reviews was highest in Mexico (75%) and Canada (51%), over four in 10 respondents in France, the UK, Germany and Australia were likely to use these kinds of reviews too. This shows that across the globe, online customer reviews have become increasingly important to influence shoppers when they are in the research process and consumers want to hear from people just like them before making a purchase.

There is still an important place for expert device testing and reviews, however. More than a third (34%) of shoppers still rely on specialist consumer advice magazines as a point of reference (such as Which? or Trusted Reviews), while 35% turn to journalist tech reviews when making a purchase. The reliance on journalists views is notably highest among Millennials with 41% agreeing, compared to only 30% of the youngest consumers: those in Gen Z.

Word of mouth is still heard loud and clear

We also found that old school word of mouth hasn’t gone anywhere when it comes to consumer trust. Getting a recommendation from a friend, family member, or colleague still holds a lot of sway when debating between products with more than four in ten (44%) consumers agreeing that word-of-mouth recommendations most influenced them. By generation, half (50%) of Millennials and 48% of Generation X still rely on word of mouth when making a purchase. Only Baby Boomers didn’t see the appeal at 34%.

Similarly to consumer reviews, relying on word of mouth has global appeal, with Mexico (54%) and Canada (51%) reporting the highest levels of trust in friends, and those they know. the UK (43%), the USA(47%), and Australia (47%). follow the pattern. But Germany (33%) and Sweden (29%),  both prefer online consumer reviews.

It may be low-tech, but word of mouth is still a great way to promote products. While admittedly, the impact of word of mouth is hard to capture, partnering with influencers within your industry, such as Youtube unboxers, for example, can raise the profile of a tech product and give consumers that word of mouth recommendation.

It’s evident from our research that people still buy from people and want to be able to relate to those that are leaving a review so they can determine if the tech will fit into their life. So, the strength of a strong reviews programme cannot be dismissed as a key way of reaching consumers when they are deciding what tech to invest in. Whether you’re building a customer outreach marketing campaign to encourage reviews on Trustpilot, or making sure your products are reviewed by the top tech journalists, consumer tech devices need a wave of recommendations to get on your customer’s radar.

Want to know who B2B tech buyers are influenced by?

Discover our latest research report: The influence factor: Where do IT decision makers turn when they need new tech?

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