Being a marketer has changed the way I experience the consumer journey when shopping, as I now consider both the customer’s perspective and the strategies behind the brand’s decisions.When two-thirds of consumers say that “making the right purchase decision requires more effort than it used to,” it indicates a barrier to confident decision-making.

Google recently surveyed over 18,000 people across 18 markets to identify ways to overcome the barrier of overwhelming choice. The study revealed that confident consumers were more likely to take actions that positively impact business performance in the long run. The key finding was that any brand, with the help of AI, can provide consumers with the relevant information they need to make informed purchase decisions based on their evolving needs. This, in turn, builds consumer confidence and drives meaningful engagement.

The Key to Building Confidence

When shoppers have the right information to navigate their choices, the process becomes enjoyable. In fact, only 12% of people said they didn’t enjoy shopping. While having many options can be overwhelming, it can also be satisfying: 72% of shoppers feel a sense of accomplishment when they make an important purchase decision.

Consumers who feel confident in their choices are more likely to make quick decisions, which boosts sales and improves business performance.

Shopping can be really overwhelming with so much information, some of which might not even be useful, that many people end up putting it off or giving up entirely. Two-thirds of consumers say they delay or avoid making decisions when faced with too many options or information, and over half say they can’t afford to make the wrong purchase decision.

Nobody wants to regret a purchase, so consumers prefer brands that help them avoid that feeling. When consumers feel sure about what they’re buying, they make quicker decisions, which helps improve sales and profits. For example, consumers who are highly confident at the point of purchase are 18X more likely to recommend the brand to family or friends than those with low confidence.

Confidence comes from having a few important things 🔑

Source: Google/Ipsos, AU, BR, CA, FR, DE, IN, IT, JP, MX, NL, SG, KR, ES, TW, TH, U.K., U.S., VN, The Relevance Factor, high confidence at purchase (n=6,499), low confidence at purchase (n=3,587) online shoppers 18+, March 2024.

Any brand can help consumers feel more confident by making information easy to find. In fact, 79% of people say they feel more confident when they’ve done their research. It’s also important that this information is trustworthy: 75% of shoppers verify what they find by checking multiple sources.

Users say that Google is the No. 1 most trusted platform for delivering the right information at the right time.

Leverage AI to unlock relevance

Marketers know the difference between relevance and personalization — and so do consumers. Our research shows that, when it comes to building consumer confidence, personalized information — such as individually addressed communications — lacks the timeliness to be relevant to users’ ever-changing and evolving needs, which heavily depend on where they are in their journey.

Consumers say relevant content aligned to their interests and needs is more important than content directed to them using only their personal information.

Consumers say that content which matches their interests and needs is more valuable than content that just uses their personal information. Although it’s important for marketers to find a balance between these approaches, the focus should be on relevance. Interestingly, 75% of consumers want brands to show that they understand their needs, and 61% want this understanding reflected in the brand’s communications.

Source: Google/Ipsos, AU, BR, CA, FR, DE, IN, IT, JP, MX, NL, SG, KR, ES, TW, TH, U.K., U.S., VN, The Relevance Factor, n=18,003 online shoppers 18+, March 2024.

It can be tough for brands to show they understand consumers, especially when people browse through various categories, research products, compare prices, and add items to their carts all at the same time. Because of this, it’s crucial for businesses to be able to interpret what consumers really want.

Even with so many ways to find information, people still trust certain sources. Consumers who used Google during their shopping journey were 1.7 times more likely to find very relevant information. One user said they turned to Google Search to find answers, even when they only had a vague idea of what they wanted. In these cases, AI plays a key role in helping find the right information, making consumers more likely to rely on it.

AI is helpful for…

Consumers are open to using AI tools to find more relevant options. For example, Circle to Search, which lets people search for anything with a simple gesture, is becoming popular. We’re also seeing people ask new types of questions involving longer and more complex queries with AI Overviews. Additionally, others are searching with photos using Google Lens. Research shows that the demand for this kind of experience is increasing, with 71% of consumers saying they find tailored ads showing them relevant options helpful.

Provide relevant help to become consumers’ first choice

Consumers are more open to trying new products, which means they don’t always stick to their usual brands. There’s a balance between wanting the familiar and being excited about new options. For instance, 55% of people continue to buy the same products because it’s convenient, even though they know there might be better alternatives. With AI-powered ad tools like Demand Gen, lesser-known brands can attract attention by showcasing new options.

Source: Google/Ipsos, AU, BR, CA, FR, DE, IN, IT, JP, MX, NL, SG, KR, ES, TW, TH, U.K., U.S., VN, The Relevance Factor, high confidence at purchase (n=6,499), low confidence at purchase (n=3,587) online shoppers 18+, March 2024.

The results are clear: Highly confident consumers are 10 times more likely to be very satisfied with their purchase and 6 times more likely to say they would “definitely buy again.” While there’s no single strategy to build consumer confidence, people tend to favor brands that make their shopping experience easier, help them learn about products, and show they understand their needs.

3 ways to deliver relevance

Source: Google/Ipsos, AU, BR, CA, FR, DE, IN, IT, JP, MX, NL, SG, KR, ES, TW, TH, U.K., U.S., VN, The Relevance Factor, high confidence at purchase (n=6,499), low confidence at purchase (n=3,587) online shoppers 18+, March 2024.

Keep things simple to ease their journey and build their knowledge. Searching and sifting through loads of information is hardly a guarantee of finding answers. The introduction of generative AI to Performance Max and conversational experience to Google Ads is already helping more brands determine what to highlight and when.

Finally, by leaning on brands that reflect an awareness of their needs, consumers can rest assured that what they are buying is worth it: 70% of consumers are looking for brands that understand their needs so they know they can rely on them.”15 Using Search campaigns and Pay Per Click campaigns together enables AI to help brands demonstrate an understanding of their needs when data may be limited.

Brands benefit when consumers have more confidence. Confident consumers improve valuable metrics, and empowering them means helping them navigate their complex journeys. By employing these strategies with the help of AI, brands can build credibility across online ad campaigns and other communications that help potential customers reach their destinations — and keep coming back.