A new study from Yext reveals how the spread of misinformation can cause consumers to not only spend much more than they intended but also lose trust in brands due to inaccurate display of information.

According to Yext’s Searching for Trust report, 87 percent of people in the UK think misinformation is already a problem, with 57 percent saying the problem will only get worse with time.

Out of 6,000 surveyed consumers across the UK, Germany and France, over half (55 percent) are concerned about misinformation now more than before the COVID.

This impacts how the public engage with brands and organisations, namely, Brits admitted to having wrongly spent a total of £2.1 billion on products and services due to misinformation over the last 12 months.

Unsurprisingly, only 41 percent of people have trust in brands in general, with an additional 45 percent saying that brands across all industries have a real problem with displaying the proper information online.

When it comes to the source of misinformation, 42 percent of consumers would blame the brand itself, while 20 percent would blame the search engine or web browser (10 percent).

Jon Buss, Managing Director EMEA at Yext, says: “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.”

“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.

Sixty-three percent of consumers admitted that correct information from a brand is closely linked to trust and that, in turn, the vast majority (71 percent) of consumers will buy from a brand they trust.

More than two-thirds (71 percent) of consumers agreed that brands should be taking the issue of misinformation more seriously.

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 percent) and that they fact-check information provided by brands and businesses (59 percent).

Buss adds: “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. 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.”

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