APRIL 7, 2008
Who do consumers trust?
Increasingly, each other.
According the Edelman “Trust Barometer,” consumers feel the most credible source for information about a company—and by inference, products— is a “person like themselves.”
Now with social shopping sites, product blogs and online ratings and reviews, consumers have the means to communicate their opinions about products and companies to tens of thousands of other consumers “like themselves” at a critical point in the sales cycle—the beginning.
“While blogs and customer ratings and reviews have long been a familiar part of the Internet commercial landscape,” says Jeff Grau, eMarketer Senior Analyst and author of the new report, Consumer Interactions: Social Shopping, Blogs and Reviews, “over the past two years social shopping sites have emerged as another way for customers to share product experiences and opinions.”
Social shopping sites attempt to replicate the emotional and social aspects of real-world shopping—such as strolling through mall stores with friends or swapping product stories at the office with colleagues.
“The sites typically provide tools for users to download photos of interesting products found on retail Web sites to their profile page or blog. Users then share and discuss their findings with the community,” says Mr. Grau. “To buy an item, a shopper simply clicks through on the product photo to the retailer’s Web site, where the purchase is made.”
And shoppers do click.
According to the “Social Networking Sites: Defining Advertising Opportunities in a Competitive Landscape” report from JupiterResearch, online social network users were three times more likely to trust their peers’ opinions over advertising when making purchase decisions.
A survey from the IBM Institute for Business Value found that the two leading reasons why people contribute content to social shopping sites are the need to feel part of a community (31%) and recognition from peers (28%).
“Today, marketers are increasingly reaching out to the growing number of online consumers who take their shopping cues from peers by targeting influential product reviewers, bloggers and social shoppers,” says Mr. Grau.