Take a look at the interesting data in the chart above, courtesy of Nielsen.
Among the things it tells us is this: If there’s one thing that’s universally consistent across all age ranges – from Gen Z and Millennials to the Silent Generation – it’s that nothing has a more positive impact on buying decisions than the recommendation of a family member, a friend or a colleague.
Not only is it true across all age ranges, it’s equally true in business and consumer segments.
The chart also shows us that, broadly speaking, younger people tend to be more receptive to various advertising formats than older age segments.
this isn’t too surprising because with age comes experience – and that also means a higher degree of cynicism about advertising.
Techniques like the “testimonials” from so-called “real people” (who are nonetheless still actors) can’t get past the jaundiced eye of veteran consumers who’ve been around the track many more times than their younger counterparts.
Someone from the Boomer or Silent Generation can smell these things out for the fakery they are like nobody else.
But if friends and colleagues are what move the buy needle the best, how does advertising fit into that scenario? What’s the best way for it to be in the mix?
One way may be “influencer” advertising. This is when industry experts and other respected people are willing to go on record speaking positively about a particular product or service.
Of course, influencers have the best “influence” in the fields where they’re already active, as opposed to endorsements from famous people who don’t have a natural connection to the products they are touting. Such celebrity “testimonials” rarely pass the snicker test.
But if you think about other people like this:
- An industry thought leader
- A prominent blogger or social networker in a particular field or on a particular topic
- A person with a genuine passion for interacting with a particular product or service
… Then you have a person who advocates for your brand in a proactive way.
That’s the most genuine form of persuasion aside from hearing recommendations from those trusted relatives, friends and colleagues.
Of course, none of that will happen without the products and services inspiring passion and advocacy at the outset. If those fundamental factors aren’t part of the mix, we’re back to square one with ineffective faux-testimonials that feel about as genuine as AstroTurf® … and the (lack of) results to match.