by: Matt Rhodes
A new study, tracking and measuring the impact of the internet on consumer behaviour across three European countries (UK, France and Germany), suggests that the internet is twice as influential as television and eight times as influential as print media. These findings come from the Digital Influence Index study from PR firm Fleishman-Hillard and research firm Harris Interactive.
The study found that consumers were more likely to seek, and then to trust, reviews of products and services online than on television or in print media. They go to social media and product rating sites to get information on products, even if they don’t buy them online; trusting the opinions of others more than the push messaging of traditional advertising approaches. They go to the corporate sites when they want a more transactional experience, or are buying more commoditised items like utilities or airline-tickets.
There was evidence in the study of a disconnect between the sources people go to for information and the trust they put in these. In the UK, for example, 66% of online consumers said that the internet helps them to make better decisions, while only 28% actually trust the information companies provide on the web.
These findings are interesting and suggest that firms need to address these changing attitudes towards influence sooner rather than later. If online is eight times as influential as print media, then a significant push should be made towards getting your online presence right.
People like reviews and opinions, they want information from people like them rather than from the organisation making and selling the product. This is why people trust information from companies online less than they might. The best thing a company can do is to create an environment where people can post reviews and opinions. Join this conversation online and help to facilitate it.
We know that people trust each other more than they are likely to trust messages pushed out on corporate sites. So embracing the social element of online should be top of all brand’s marketing plans.