By Paul M. Rand
While word-of-mouth recommendations have long been considered the “holy grail” of marketing, new primary research from Zócalo Group uncovers insights into what actually constitutes a recommendation, where and when customers recommend, and who and what is trusted in today’s digital and social media-rich world.
According to Zócalo’s 2013 Recommendations Study, 91 percent of consumers make a recommendation after having a positive experience with a particular brand. In addition, consumers also express their altruistic sensibilities, with 49 percent saying that they made a recommendation because they “wanted to help the person [they] made a recommendation to.”
As for what sources consumers trust for recommendations, the study found differences between the perceived trustworthiness of different sources of recommendations. Direct, in-person recommendations lead, with 63.1 percent of respondents saying they are the most trustworthy. The channels most used for recommendations are similar to those that were named the most credible—in-person encounters (68.9 percent) and Facebook posts (37.1 percent) are two of the top places people make recommendations. In terms of who they listen to, respondents said friends (79.5 percent) and family members (73.4 percent) the most, with celebrity spokespeople (4.1 percent) on the low end. Although engaging celebrities will continue to have a place in building awareness for brands, we now know that when it comes to consumers purchase decisions, they are recognizing the difference between a celebrity endorsement and a genuine recommendation.
Brands need to understand where, how and why they are—or aren’t—being recommended. Both consumer and business to business brands now have the power to directly influence and impact how they are recommended—and bought. This research gives us an even clearer look and how both explicit and implied recommendations are changing the game. Insights from this study should help you create program strategies and make them even more effective.
Full details of the survey are available at http://zocalogroup.com/knowledgehub/recommendations-study/
Paul M. Rand is the President and CEO of Zócalo Group (www.zocalogroup.com) and author of Highly Recommended: Harnessing the Power of Social Media and Word of Mouth to Build Your Brand and Your Business (McGraw Hill, September 2013)