WOM tops trust charts for US shoppers

27 March 2013

NEW YORK: Some 70% of US consumers trust brand and product recommendations from their friends and family, but only 10% feel the same about online ads, a report has revealed.

According to Forrester's new study, entitled "How To Build Your Brand With Branded Content", traditional digital "push" communications no longer carry much weight with the target audience.

Its research showed banner ads and text messages were the least trusted form of advertising. Only 10% of Americans  gave banner ads a four- or five-point rating on an ascending five-point scale of trust. The figure for text messages from companies or brands was lower still, at 9%.

By contrast, self-selected digital pull content scored highly on this measure. Fully 70% of Americans awarded brand or product recommendations from friends and family with four or five points.

Professionally-written online reviews on sites like CNET gained the approval of 55% of shoppers on the same terms, while consumer-written reviews on sites like Amazon earned the same status from 46%.

Some 43% trusted natural search engine results, as did 32% for the information contained on brand and company websites.

The same data showed European consumers were less trusting than their American counterparts in every category. This was especially true of professional online reviews, which found favour with just 33% of Europeans. Consumer reviews were trusted by a slightly greater 38%.

The report said that as traditional marketing vehicles are becoming less effective in capturing and engaging the attention of always-connected consumers, chief marketing officers must adapt their strategies.

Branded content could offer one route to success. Forrester outlined what it called the Four Cs framework: "capture" the brand's essence in branded content; "connect" to consumers in context; "create" value through the content; and "continuously" measure and optimise results.

As its report noted: "Branded content has the ability to create brand differentiation by bridging the gap between TV's emotive power and digital media's efficient reach."

Data sourced from Forrester, Forbes; additional content by Warc staff