Reddit research: Trust, recommendations, and the next era of influence

At CES 2024, Reddit released research outlining the growing importance of recommendations in purchase decisions.

Insights
Rob Gaige, Director, Global Insights
January 31, 2024

As influencers and AI erode users' faith in various platforms, more and more consumers value real-world experience and recommendations.

  • Discovery is in question - Twice as many US Gen Z social media users (18-26) say they will rely on influencers less vs. more in five years.1 
  • Consideration is flooded with skepticism - While 40% of social media users first heard about products/services they purchased through a search engine, a social media influencer, or Amazon5, they think these resources and the technology driving them are unsafe, impersonal, and untrustworthy. 
  • Decision-focused reviews are not trusted - Over half of social media users believe bots are likely making fake product reviews on Amazon.1

The Recommendation Journeys for Products research shows that recommendations within Reddit communities play a significant role in influencing purchases across the entire purchase funnel, from discovery to consideration, all the way to final decisions, no matter the category. 

Recommendations vary by category

Released at CES 2024, the research included a focus on consumer electronics, in addition to auto, beauty, and alcohol. 

In consumer electronics, recommendations in the discovery phase are 17% of mentions.2

For marketers, understanding the phrasing at the beginning of a search can help connect to a person looking for a solution. This is the ideal place to connect your overall value proposition with higher order consumer needs.

  • In 38% of these discovery related recommendation posts, non-tech savvy redditors start with situational needs in mind.2 They use phrases like “I have no idea what to look for” or “I am new to this” to tacitly ask for patience and technical guidance with their recommendation requests.
    • These types of posts follow a pattern of stating the product needed and the situation or budget. For example, “laptop for [situation]” or “budget headset”.
  • Meanwhile, tech-savvy redditors have identified their main pain point and come to Reddit hoping to find peers experiencing the same issues and help them solve the problem.
    • They seek recommendations rooted in performance issues like needing to upgrade an existing product (50%), replacing a broken product (31%), or the product not working as expected (19%).2

The consideration stage, which includes 53% of mentions,2 is where people with related first-hand experience give more in-depth advice on the criteria they used in their own decision and why.

The consideration phase is the place where marketers should emphasize their most compelling features. Unlike other parts of the funnel, this is an information hungry consumer, meaning more depth is ultimately more helpful.

Consumer Electronics consideration phases

Decision recommendations include 30% of mentions.2  

Confident buyers turn to Reddit for one final check. Redditors typically enter this phase of the journey with a shortlist of products in mind, using phrases like “help me choose between” or “is this a good price?” or “is this a good choice?” For brands, this is the place to emphasize promotional pricing or introduce direct comparisons with the competition.

Reddit is the #1 destination for real recommendations

In today’s online shopping landscape, trustworthy recommendations hold more value than ever before, as trust in influencers and reviews is eroding. Reddit is the #1 destination for real recommendations1 by real people, helping each other with purchases big and small. 

With over 16 billion posts and comments,4 Reddit hosts the world's largest archive of conversation and recommendations. That’s why Reddit has become the #1 resource for personalized advice and recommendations specific to shoppers and their individualized situations versus other social media platforms, AI search tools, or influencers. 1

And on Reddit, people are ready to hear from brands directly

Recommendations from Reddit users are inherently more trustworthy because they represent the collective experience of a community’s real life verification of a brand’s claims. This naturally creates a big opportunity for brands to invite early adopters and passionate community members to pressure test the merits of their brand.

Brands will find that redditors are surprisingly open minded and willing to change their opinion if given enough information–but it’s up to brands to tell them why their products are the best.

Our research shows:

  • The nuance of back-and-forth discussions causes redditors to be more open to examining their own ideas and being exposed to opposing viewpoints than users on other platforms.
    • 74% of people say that Reddit is where I go to challenge my thinking and views." 3
  • The authentic and honest conversations cause redditors to be more receptive to new ideas compared to users of other platforms.
    • 90% of people say that they are "open to new ideas when I’m using Reddit. 3
  • People are more likely to be receptive to brands sharing information about their products on Reddit, than other social platforms, regardless of the category.
    • 79% of people would be interested in seeing brands share information about their products on Reddit.3

Implications for marketers

Recommendations are happening at scale, in detail, and in the context of community trust and engagement.

  • Show up - People are looking for answers, seeking input, and open to information from brands. Be in the right place at the right time.
  • Answer the right questions at the right time - Make creative that targets your audience at a specific stage in their purchase journey and aligned to the advice they are seeking. In consumer electronics, consideration comes down to nuanced needs and the search for specific features to help your consumers feel confident with detailed information.
  • Validate their decisions - For high priced goods like car purchases, use creative that includes data and testimonials showing how satisfied others have been with their purchases.
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Sources:

 1Reddit Custom Survey, US, Looking Ahead, n=1000, A18+, Aug 2023

2Brandwatch, Global, July 2022-July 2023.

3Reddit Custom Survey, U.S., Let’s talk about your purchases & Social Media,  n=8000, A18-60, Monthly Social Media Users, August 2023.

4Reddit Internal Data, Global, January - December 2022.

5 Reddit Custom Survey, US, Validating Purchase Recommendations, n=1000, A18+, Aug 2023