KUALA LUMPUR: Some 86% of Malaysian consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations, with digital formats offering further opportunities for brands, a recent survey has revealed.

A Nielsen study found there are significant opportunities for brands to integrate the power of personal recommendations with path to purchase by using digital channels.

With an internet penetration rate of 66%, Malaysia is one of the most connected countries in South East Asia. Ecommerce is taking off, with 37% of Malaysians shopping online within the last month, according to statistics from We Are Social.

Craig Johnson, Nielsen's head of reach solutions for Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific, told Marketing that brands who master "online word-of-mouth" marketing techniques can gain quicker and viral reach.

Social media in particular can add a new element to the power of word of mouth and personal recommendations.

Malaysians spend almost three and a half hours every day on social media, with 90% of users connecting via their mobile phone. As Malaysia's smartphone uptake grows, mobile web traffic has increased to 40% of all time spent online – up 58% in the last 12 months alone.

For KFC Malaysia, a campaign for Zinger burgers that encouraged participants to share their experience on social media drew 1.2m views online and 75,328 more fans were won over to KFC Malaysia's Facebook page. 

An investment into their social properties saw their number of fans rise from 200,000 to 32m, making their page one of the most successful KFC social properties globally and the most popular Facebook page in Malaysia.

The study also indicated that Malaysians are more receptive to brand advertising, particularly traditional channels, despite more brands becoming active in the digital space. TV remains the channel with most reach in Malaysia – between 85 and 90%. More than six in 10 Malaysian consumers indicated their trust in ads published/broadcasted in newspaper (68%), magazines (64%), television (63%) and radio (62%).

Data sourced from Marketing, We Are Social; additional content by Warc staff