For Trusted Advice, Consumers Turn to Word of Mouth: Nielsen

By Oct 05, 2007

When it comes to trustworthy sources of information about products and services, consumers overwhelmingly put their trust in…other consumers, according to a new survey from Nielsen Research.

The most recent version of Nielsen’s semi-annual Global Internet survey found that 78% of Internet users said they trusted recommendations from fellow consumers for buying advice. That’s distinct from consumer opinions or reviews posted online, which earned the confidence of 61% of the survey population. Sixty percent said they trusted the information found on Web sites run by the brands themselves.

“Advertisers around the world are able to reach consumers across an increasingly diverse range of media platforms,” David McCallum, global managing director for Nielsen’s customized research services, said in a statement. “Even so, the recommendation of someone else remains the most trusted source of information when consumers decide which products and services to buy.”

Given estimates by some word-of-mouth experts that reports of bad experiences outnumber good ones by as many as five to one, McCallum added, the survey results should make brands even more alert to providing high-quality customer service.

Traditional ad media also commanded the trust of more than half the respondents: newspaper ads (63%), television spots (56%), magazines (56%), and radio (54%). But other digital formats didn’t get as strong a consumer endorsement. Only 49% said they trusted the information in “e-mail I signed up for”, while 34% had confidence in search engine ads. Online banner ads (26%) and mobile phone text ads (18%) trailed all other formats.

Brand sponsorships and ads before movies also inspired belief in less than half those surveyed, with sponsorships earning only 49% credibility and theater spots 38%.

The Nielsen Global Internet survey polled more than 26,000 Web users in 47 markets around the world.

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