Humans are social creatures; we are heavily influenced by the opinions, experiences and recommendations of others.
You know that self doubt you feel when you're just about to make an important purchase?
We all feel it; it's why we look for affirmation from those we trust - and why we are 4 times more likely to buy something when referred by a friend.
The referrals and recommendations we rely on used to came from friends and family in face to face discussions. But the internet and social media have completely changed that.
In this new, hyper-connected world, the "herd" we trust has grown significantly - it's not just friends and family any more.
We are instantly connected to a growing number of people who can influence what we buy.
How herd mentality influences our purchasing
Before we make a significant purchase, we research the options to select the product that is best suited to our needs.
But that relies on us gaining enough understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the options.
Traditionally, this is where sales people came in; they had the product or subject matter expertise that we relied on to make the right decision.
Their knowledge gave us comfort; even though they weren't offering impartial advice.
The internet has almost every subject matter expert you need
With information so readily available now, a lot of us are more comfortable making some large and potentially scary purchases on our own.
A good example is international travel. The first few times I travelled to other countries I relied heavily on a travel agent to help with different cultures, rules and travel methods.
The travel agent had information I couldn't easily get - recommendations of good hotels, advice on what would be the most enjoyable and even the safest. The idea of travelling without that advice seemed crazy.
Fast forward to my most recent trip - I didn't use a travel agent at all. Online research gave me everything I needed to get to my destination, safely and without fuss.