Fake news and data breaches seem to be constantly in the headlines these days, and they’re having a notable impact on consumers’ trust in new media. While Australians actively use digital media and frequently check their social media channels, they trust traditional channels more, and they still prefer real-life conversations when it comes to sharing brand experiences or seeking recommendations.
The findings come from a new Nielsen study in 11 markets, which highlights the importance of traditional media for manufacturers and retailers looking for ways to allocate their marketing and advertising spend. It’s also an opportunity for brands and retailers to work toward re-gaining consumers’ trust in a world that’s becoming more digital by the minute.
Nielsen’s Syndicated Real Life versus Digital Life Report revealed that when it comes to brand trust, Australians turn to traditional media outlets. Consumers view newspapers as the most trustworthy, with a trust-to-usage index of 229; outdoor/billboards had an index of 150; magazines was 120, TV was 106; while internet/digital media had a much lower index of 74. Trust to usage index is the ratio of consumers who use the media most often to trusting the media most often.
Real life conversations impact purchase decisions
While Australian consumers are actively engaging online, word-of-mouth and real life conversations have a stronger influence on consumers’ minds and, therefore, their purchasing decisions. Nearly half of the respondents surveyed (46%) confirm that word-of-mouth influences them highly (versus social media at 31%), and 58% indicate real life conversations make an impact on their purchasing decisions (versus social media at 47%).
Australia is ahead of the curve compared with other markets with word-of-mouth dominance over social media, showing it has the strongest “influence level” on consumers’ minds and purchasing decisions.
“Word-of-mouth has always been and remains one of the greatest enablers for marketers in the battle for consumers’ hearts and minds, and it is crucial to understand the way you can leverage its opportunities for your brand”, says Sue Temple, Vice-President, Global Consumer Insights, Nielsen.
Most brand conversations happen in real life
Real-life conversations happen naturally and are a way for consumers to share their true emotions with their community. When consumers are impressed by an experience, they can easily become brand ambassadors.
More than half of all Australians (56%) say they talk about products/services/stores at least once a week, with males and younger consumers talking more frequently about their experiences. They mainly speak to close friends (46%), their spouse (44%) or friends/acquaintances (32%). These two-way conversations tend to centre around new product purchases (33%) and exclusive sales/promotions (33%). Aussies share their experiences (32%) and recommend products, services and shops (30%) to others.
“It is easier for us to trust people we know — friends, spouses, colleagues — than unknown personalities on social media so to unlock this opportunity for business more efforts need to be put into a positive experience, which will encourage your customers to share within their personal network,” adds Temple.
Food is often a main topic of their discussions, as most conversations are related to food and grocery stores (45%), restaurants and cafes (38%), food and beverage/drink products (34%). Other topics include entertainment, such as films or TV subscriptions (36%), mobile phone/ broadband providers (34%) and electronics or home appliances (32%). While males are more likely to talk about films (41%), female consumers are more likely to talk about fashion brands and stores (36%) compared to market average.
Consumers use online more passively to find information and recommendations
Consumers frequently engage with brands online via social media, with 35% of consumers reading, watching, commenting or posting about products daily (vs 19% offline) and 59% at least once a week. They mainly use Facebook (80%), Instagram (39%), YouTube (38%) and Twitter (23%), and also talk about brands on WhatsApp messenger (19%). Online is more passively driven, consumers are looking for an interesting read (43%), searching for information/recommendations (35%) or just stay connected (33%). Targeting consumers with relevant content and advertising that is personally relevant to them is important for marketers to build emotional connection in the digital space.
Case Example: Family and friends influence car purchasing decisions in Australia
In Australia, Nielsen recently conducted a pilot project to measure the impact of digital chatter and word-of-mouth on brand equity in the automotive industry using our enhanced Winning Brands methodology. The results of this study found that word-of-mouth drives brand equity and market share more than digital. Nearly one-third of auto buyers (31%) state that the recommendation of family and friends influenced their last car purchase decisions. Test drives were the only stronger influence (43%) for car purchases.
It’s important for automakers to leverage their strong advocacy with existing customers. Nearly three-in-four Australian auto buyers (72%) said that they speak to friends, colleagues, relatives and family members about auto brands but only one-third (33%) read, comment or post about car brands on social media sites. Toyota (29%), Mazda (17%), Holden (16%), Hyundai (15%), Ford (14%), and Honda (13%) were the most talked about brands, which is reflective of their local market share. Luxury brands like BMW (12%), Mercedes (9%) and Audi (8%) were also spoken about. As consumers share their experience the sentiment of most conversations is positive. Car makers should leverage their loyal customer base as advocates and encourage word-of-mouth and referrals.
While consumers are actively engaging online, the quality of digital content and trust in digital communication has not developed at the same pace. Understanding the relationship between digital and real life will have a direct impact on the efficiency of marketing campaigns for your brand.
It is important for retailers and manufacturers to allocate spend to traditional advertising channels as well as digital. Identify who the key influencers are; consumers are passively searching for product information online, and relevant, interesting content may then inspire them to engage in real-life conversations. It is real-life conversations that have the strongest impact on consumers and their purchasing decisions.