New study from Yext reveals serious public concerns about the spread of misinformation and its impact on trust between consumers and brands
London, UK, 23rd September 2020 – In a world tainted by ‘fake news’ and misinformation, even businesses are counting the cost of wrong answers and inaccurate information to the tune of billions of pounds, according to Yext’s first annual ‘Searching for Trust’ report.
The study, which surveyed 6,000 consumers across the UK, Germany and France, found that 87% of people in the UK believe misinformation is already a problem, and that 57% think it will be a greater problem in the future. 55% are also more concerned about misinformation now than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is having an impact on how the public engage with brands and organisations: in the UK, Brits admitted that they had wrongly spent a total of £2.1bn on products and services due to misinformation in the last 12 months. It’s no surprise, then, that only 41% of people trust brands in general, with 45% saying that brands, across all industries, have a real problem when it comes to displaying the proper information online. What’s more, if a consumer was given inaccurate information about a brand through a search engine, most would blame the brand itself (42%), rather than the search engine (20%) or web browser (10%).
“Misinformation is now a key battleground for trust. With more consumers than ever searching for answers about brands and products online, expectations about the accuracy of what they find have become greater than ever,” says Jon Buss, Managing Director, EMEA at Yext. “It’s clear that the impact of inaccurate answers is costing both sides dearly, and no matter the source, no matter the medium, consumers expect brands to step up and take control of their information online. Otherwise, they risk eroding consumer trust, which is ultimately bad news for the bottom line.”
As businesses look to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic, tackling misinformation and sharing accurate answers will have a significant role to play in rebuilding trust; 63% of consumers admitted that correct information from a brand is closely linked to trust and that, in turn, the vast majority (71%) of consumers will buy from a brand they trust.
But when questioned as to whether brands should be taking the issue of misinformation more seriously, 71% agreed. In response, the public are taking matters into their own hands, with many saying that they’ll consult another source of information when they don’t get a satisfactory response to a question online (64%) and that they fact-check information provided by brands and businesses (59%).
What’s more, nearly half (47%) of consumers say there is too much information out there, making it difficult to find the right answers. Brands can either seize the opportunity to provide consistent and accurate answers to a consumer’s search, or risk losing out to a competitor when they fact-check.
“Thanks to the proliferation of fake news and outdated information online, the public have become more sceptical of information than ever before; and this is creating a culture of mistrust which businesses have to react to,” Buss continues. “The inability to find answers to their questions is making consumers take their business elsewhere. The first step for every brand now must be to fight for their facts, wherever they are.”
To find out more about how misinformation and wrong answers is impacting brands, you can view the ‘Searching for Trust’ report here.
Data for this report was gathered by Censuswide, an independent market research consultancy. More than 6,000 consumers from France, Germany and the United Kingdom (c. 2,000 in each territory) responded to an online questionnaire during August 2020. The amount wrongly spent on products and services due to misinformation is an estimate based on responses to the online questionnaire as well as third party data, which has not been independently verified.
The ultimate source for official answers about a business online should be the business itself. However, when consumers ask questions on company websites, too often they are left in the dark with wrong answers. Yext (NYSE: YEXT), the Search Experience Cloud, solves this problem by organising a business’s facts so it can provide official answers to consumer questions — wherever people search. Starting with the company website, then extending across search engines and voice assistants, businesses around the world, like T-Mobile, Jaguar Land Rover, BBVA USA, and Kiehl’s — as well as organizations like the U.S. State Department and World Health Organization —trust Yext to radically improve the search experience on their websites and across the entire search ecosystem.