Consumer Psychology for a Digital Age

Word of Mouth Still Most Trusted Resource Says Nielsen; Implications for Social Commerce

Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report repeats findings from previous years – people don’t trust advertising, at least not as much as they trust recommendations from friends and consumer opinions expressed online.

According to the report, which surveyed more than 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries, 92 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising – an increase of 18 percent since 2007. Online consumer reviews rank as the second most trusted source, with 70 percent of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust messages on this platform, an increase of 15 percent in four years.

Ranking third, fourth and fifth are editorial content (58%), branded websites (58%), and opt-in emails (50%) respectively. Traditional forms of advertising using media such as television, print and radio rank lower, and have seen a significant drop – as much as 24% – since 2009.

Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report

With its emphasis on friend-to-friend sharing, this bodes well for social commerce. For example, when we are uncertain about what to buy, it’s common for us to depend on the influence of friends. Therefore, integrating elements such as rating and recommendation systems, social sharing buttons and shop together tools is a smart thing to do.

Nielsen finding’s indicate that editorial content such as that found in newspapers is trusted, as well. Normally, we associate such content with those we would consider to be experts in their fields. So a reliance on expert voices – authority figures, celebrities, etc – is a wise move. Think Kim Kardashian at Shoedazzle, or Rachel Bilson and Kate Bosworth at Beachmint as examples.

Tactics aside, what is of greatest importance is that your social media engagement be marked by authenticity and transparency. People want to be told the truth. They want their interactions with you to be validated by a genuine personal response. And they want the acknowledgement that what they have to say matters.

And another thing – success in social commerce is not simply a matter of utilizing certain channels, or even maintaining a high level of engagement, but of providing a product or service that’s worth talking about. If you do, people will. And, if the Nielsen report has value, the earned media you accrue as a result will work in your favor.

Comments (25):

    • Nick Dey

      February 8, 2016 at 20:03

      I know my reply is after almost 4 years. Am sure all will agree that lot, lot have changed in these 4 years. With the increase in the e commerce transactions all over the world combining with too many competing options for a consumer to buy from is giving pain not just to the marketers of these products but also to the consumers as they are not able to decide which product is best for them.

      This leads to a need of free un-biased reviews reviews by the consumers themselves for the consumers. Lot to be seen how this can be achieved in coming years. http://www.Fanreviews.co is one such site that seems to be making such attempt to bring together all the reviewers on a platform that can help the end consumers to decide what best fits them.

      Reply
  1. George Eberstadt

    April 17, 2012 at 22:01

    “…when we are uncertain about what to buy, it’s common for us to depend on the influence of friends.” Paul, I think this is a bit too simple. Friend influence is a lot more important during the discovery stage of the purchase cycle than during the evaluation stage, and there’s little brands can do to activate friend-influence. People trust their friends precisely because they know their friends are NOT trying to sell them. No one wants to be a shill, and no one wants to be shilled to. The problem is that “trust” does not equal “influence”. On the other hand, reviews from fellow shoppers (ie strangers) are very influential during the evaluation phase of the purchase cycle, but not during discovery – no one reads reviews unless they already have purchase intent. So while there are aspects of social commerce that work (you know I’m in the biz), it’s easy to draw the wrong conclusions from this trust data and end up pursuing strategies that don’t work. (More on our blog: http://bit.ly/HFV5K2.)

    Reply
    • Hippie

      April 26, 2016 at 01:59

      Super inoramftive writing; keep it up.

      Reply
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  2. Martina

    April 26, 2012 at 01:13

    Hardly surprising that the vast majority trusts recommendations from peers when it comes to purchase decisions. Money is tight, consumer trust and confidence is low and brands are not helping with their constant attempt to squeeze more money out of you.
    Social commerce alone however will not solve any of these problems and is only worth pursuing for brands which (as Paul says) provide a product/service that is worth talking about. And that is the biggest challenge yet…

    Reply

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