The Amazon Effect On Trust: The New Ad Currency


Today’s advertising knows no bounds 

You can absentmindedly mention that you feel a cold coming on, and shortly thereafter be served an ad for cold medicine. As a consumer facing a daunting number of brands of everything from cold medicine to coats, it can be helpful—but in some cases can also feel like a violation of privacy. In an age where an advertiser can reach a consumer anywhere, at any time, many consumers are more likely to turn to someone they trust for a recommendation. Especially when the choice out of countless options is about something more personal than cold medicine. 

We Buy with a Little Help From Our Friends

Adding in an element of personal style, coupled with the pursuit of quality and a higher price point, a consumer is even more likely to rely on a suggestion from a friend. That's why the best endorsement a brand can have comes across like advice from a friend, and brands and retailers are cashing in on this concept. It subsequently comes as no surprise that influenced purchases—specifically from real-life and real-people influence, in the form of online reviews, and word of mouth—are on the rise. As AdAge aptly notes, “If influence is the new transaction, trust is the new currency.”

Adage also says that, “Reviews and multiple stars are what moves product and generates interest.” Consumers want endorsement on a future purchase from a friend, or at least someone they relate to, and therefore trust. A billboard in Times Square may be admired, but unrelatable to an average consumer.


No product is a better example of this than Amazon’s Orolay Women’s Thickened Down Jacket, better known as the Upper East Side Mom Jacket. It's the coat that went viral last winter, with little advertising dollars spent, due to its nearly 7000 reviews, 83% of which are 4 or 5 stars. And if that wasn’t enough, the multiple sightings of this coat on any given block, in any major city, should be. The reviews are glowing—a priceless endorsement for any product: One review in particular reads, “It’s practical, water-resistant, windproof, on-trend with the asymmetrical shape (Balenciaga vibes), rings in under $130, and wowee, get a load of all those pockets.” 

If an online shopper is on the fence about purchasing this item because they haven’t seen it in person, felt the material for themselves, or tried it on beforehand, such enthusiastic reviews certainly speak to its quality, and would warrant a purchase. When two of four friends I invited to visit last winter showed up wearing this jacket, suddenly I needed it, too. And not because I had a legitimate need for a new winter coat—or any extra space in my coat closet—but because of this: many of my friends had this coat, so it must be something worth purchasing. 

A consumer trusts that their friends and family wouldn’t mislead them, and as a result, Forbes says, “People are putting more trust in others they know and reputable content.” Amazon most notably has built a brand that goes hand-in-hand with trust for its consumers.  A report on says, “Some 45% of shoppers consider Amazon to be trustworthy. Although other retailers arguably can provide a similar shopping experience along the lines of expansive product selection, free delivery options, etc., once a customer has trust in a company, they have no distinguishing reason to shift to another retailer.” 

The Amazon Effect

The trust that Amazon shoppers have for this retailer has even led to the real and measurable “Amazon Effect,” defined by Forbes as “An almost completely frictionless shopping process with near-immediate results…[leading] customers [to] want the same experience, whether they’re in front of their computers or inside a shopping mall.” 

The risk of being deceived was once a legitimate concern with e-commerce; anything for sale online could be something entirely different in quality and appearance once it arrives at your door, disguised by a deceptively flattering online photo. But Amazon has solved this dilemma for its consumers. They have been able to capitalize on consumers’ growing independence and provide the necessary tools to guide shoppers to an informed purchase with an abundance of product reviews, and pictures, submitted by real Amazon shoppers.  

The best endorsement doesn’t come across like an advertisement at all. The rise of seamless advertisements, hidden among the friends and influencers a person follows on their own Instagram feed or printed in a magazine a person trusts enough to flip through in their precious spare time, is evidence enough. This is also illustrated in the online review a person, very much like you, takes the time out of their day to write or read. Mintel says “Online purchasing decisions can be swayed by…the quality and tone of product reviews and consumers rely on these reviews to ultimately make purchasing decisions.”  

In a reality inundated with paid influencers and advertisements, consumers want to feel like they’re still in control of what they buy. And nothing is a more trustworthy endorsement than seeing multiple peers in any given direction wearing the same coat that thousands are singing the praises of online.



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