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Consumers Say Family Recommendations Are Not Enough


A new survey by Cone says that four-out-of-five consumers will go online for a recommendation when they’re interested in buying something–even after it’s been recommended to them by a friend or family member. Looks like blood isn’t thicker than water these days. Not when it comes to parting with hard earned cash. And it doesn’t have to be a lot of cash, either.

The survey found that cost wasn’t a big factor in the decision to verify product claims. 82% said they would do research online before buying a car, but 72% said they’d check the reviews on movies and restaurants before heading out. Once they find what they’re looking for online, 80% of those polled said that a positive recommendation would reinforce their intent to buy. It’s interesting to note that only 68% said a negative review would stop them from buying a product or service. That may be the result of our tendency to want validation for our own ideas. Dad likes it, the guy online likes it and so do you, equals, you’re a smart decision maker.

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The oddest thing about the study is the portion that talks about who you trust. 63% said they trust recommendations from family members, 31% said friends and only 2% said strangers. Yet a huge portion of the 98% who said they didn’t trust strangers admit to going online to look for confirmation of recommendations by family members. So you won’t trust a stranger on the street but you’ll trust one who writes a review at Amazon. Interesting.

If you believe what the Cone study is saying, then a lot marketing agencies are going about this all wrong. Bzzagent, for example, is a program that is built on the concept that word-of-mouth marketing between friends and family members is the best marketing. Bzzagents are given samples of a product along with talking points and coupons designed to spread the buzz. Going with what the Cone study says, there needs to be an additional step, which is pointing the buzz-ee to a website where they can read positive reviews to back up the bzzagent’s claims.

A combined one-two punch, word of mouth followed by online reviews, is a near perfect winner, particularly if you’re going after the 25-34 crowd. According to the study, 91% of those people go online to verify recommendations and 90% said they were likely to buy after finding support for the claims online.

If want to know more about this survey, the best place to visit is Cone Inc but since I know you’re not going to take my word for it, you can check with Glenn Zaccara, Sr. Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility,  T-Mobile USA, he says, “The agency continues to be the rock behind the program we’ve built.”

Good enough for you?

  • http://www.keithmette.com Keith Mette

    I have experienced the above exactly with referrals that I have given out. I have had clients, friends & family call me and ask me if the business I referred is real after they couldn’t find it on google. It is why SEO is so important even for the local businesses. Being on 1st page of google also gives perception of being a top ten.

  • http://www.whybcause.com arthur

    Word of mouth and telling your friends has been the “ultimate mantra”, but my experience is that friends and family, listen and do something else. Thanks for an informative post Cynthia ;-)