A recent study, based on responses from 58,000 respondents in the US and 16,000 respondents in Europe, conducted by Forrester Research reveals interesting findings about the trust placed by consumers in various online advertising and promotion approaches (see figure below). The study shows that 70% of consumers in the US (61% in Europe) trust brand or product recommendations from friends and family. While 55% of US consumers (33% in Europe) trust professionally written online reviews and 46% of US consumers (38% in Europe) trust consumer written online reviews.
As outlined in a previous post in this blog, this level of trust in friends and online opinions doesn’t come as a surprise. It is the logical result of the good reputation that any person tends to have among his friends and the natural trust that online consumers place in authoritative reviewers and aggregated ratings (the so-called wisdom of crowds). Both friends and online authoritative and aggregated opinions can be viewed as reliable sources. The recommendations from reliable sources are of primary importance, they help human brain in making decisions very quickly because they have a big impact on trust inference.
That is the reason why we do think that the digital world should move towards the establishment of topic-related, experience and/or expertise-oriented, trust-based hierarchies of reviewers. Those hierarchies will significantly reinforce, for the better, consumers’ reliance on online reviews and recommendations.
Rafik Hanibeche & Adel Amri (Trustiser Founders)