MÜNICH: Traditional media remain the most important source of information on companies for German consumers with social media playing only a minor role in determining public opinion, new research has shown.

A survey of 1,000 consumers for ComMenDo, a corporate communications agency, found that just over 70% of the population acquired their knowledge of a business from media such as newspapers, far ahead of any other source.

There was widespread distrust of corporate communications, as just 20% said they thought information coming from companies themselves was credible. But with around one third seeking recommendations and guidance there was a clear disconnect between what businesses were offering and what consumers actually wanted, reported Absatzwirtschaft.

People were twice as likely to rely on conversations with friends and family (40%) or to believe what journalists and consumer groups said (39%) as to depend on information supplied by firms.

Social media content from business, on 14%, was not a major contributor to this discussion, while corporate publications provided only slightly more. Even among younger web-savvy 18-24 year-olds, only 36% had used Facebook to find out about companies and organisations.

While confidence in material provided directly by companies was low, the survey did indicate that trust levels rose along with a respondent's education and income.

Prof. Michael Bürker, who led the study, noted that it was important for businesses to target these particularly relevant groups – academics and high earners – through appropriate channels such as newspapers.

Overall just 29% of respondents felt they were reliably informed and a similar proportion said they wanted to be heard on important issue.

But few were prepared to take steps to inform themselves; just 9% said they had actively sought out and used information in the preceding three months.

Data sourced from Absatzwirtschaft; additional content by Warc staff