Zocalo: Brand experiences drive recommendations

Positive experiences move consumers to make recommendations to friends and family, many times for altruistic reasons.

NEW YORK: Most consumers are driven to make product or service recommendations after they have a positive brand experience, with almost half doing so for altruistic reasons, according to a study from Ketchum's Zócalo Group.

The firm's 2013 Recommendation Study found than just over nine in ten (91%) consumers make a recommendation after having a positive experience with a brand. Almost half of consumers do so because they want to “help” the person to whom they are recommending it.

It found that in-person recommendations are considered the most trusted type of suggestion. However, the way consumers commend brands and products online has “changed dramatically” because consumers have greater access to information, said Paul Rand, president and CEO of Zócalo Group.

The study is based on research from Nielsen, which found that 92% of all consumers state that a recommendation from friends and family is the leading influencer on their purchase behavior.

Of the type of online recommendations made, YouTube video reviews and Facebook likes by friends are the types of posts most likely to encourage a consumer to buy or try a product, at 46.5% and 46.1%, respectively. These were followed by a positive brand review online (45.6%), and a news article (44.4%).

YouTube video reviews are trusted by 31.2% of consumers, followed by Facebook posts at 27.1%. According to the study, Yelp reviews should not be discounted and are trusted by 17% of consumers, highlighting the importance of the community as a viable source for recommendations.

This means the Facebook “like” has a greater level of importance for marketers and PR professionals beyond generating buzz, Rand explained.

Eight in ten consumers say they listen to friends for recommendations, while 73.5% listen to family members. Only 4.1% of consumers listen to celebrity spokespeople for recommendations. 

Rand said this shows celebrity endorsements are more effective in generating buzz for a brand or product, rather than influencing sales, if the endorsement is paid.

“As PR professionals, we are increasingly asked not to just make noise, but create communications with intent. There is real value in recommendation, and it is the holy grail of marketing,” said Rand. “You can advertise at someone all day long, but if you know the power of channels for recommendations, the likelihood of increasing purchases goes up exponentially.”

Zócalo partnered with market research company Lab42 to survey 1,000 consumers in a sample following the US Census – 50% women, 50% men -- across an assortment of geographies and demographics. 

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