Healthy living is a complex and highly personal topic, so it's not surprising that women seek credibility in the content they consume and that trust is such an important factor in determining which sources are deemed influential. As part of the POPSUGAR Insights 2014 Healthy Living Report, we wanted to determine which influencers women see as credible to help marketers harness their influence to drive brand affinity and create meaningful relationships with women.
Influence is a fluid entity, a relationship which is nourished and can grow or shrink over time, so it's important to note that these measures of influence are based on how women currently feel about these source, and they may change as their individual relationships with these sources of influence mature. We used a 10-point scale ranging from "not at all influential" (1) to "very influential" (10) to gauge the relative influence of each source.
Overall, the top two box summary (women who ranked a source as a 9 or 10) shows that "information from a topic area expert — someone with specific expertise" is seen as the most credible (29%) source of influence, followed by a "company, brand or product website" (14%). "Social media" (12%) ranked just slightly ahead of "information from a writer, journalist, or blogger" (11%) or "advertisements" (10%) and "endorsements or sponsorship by a well-known celebrity ranked last (6%). While information from a topic area expert ranked first for all age groups, a higher percentage of women between the ages of 35-40 selected topical expertise than women 18-34, while women 18-34 were more likely to trust a company, brand, or product website.
Brands can play an important role in a woman's daily exercise and nutrition habits, but it's very important for the brand, or any spokesperson they hire on their behalf, to be seen as credible and knowledgeable on the topic they are covering. Women struggle to understand all of the nutrition messages in the media and don't have time to become an expert on every area of health and fitness themselves, so they rely on brands and other influencers to fill those roles. It's important for a brand to establish a degree of trust with women, and given the nature of the healthy living subject, the ability to help provide direction or useful solutions from a credible source would be very well received.