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Harris-American-Company-Information-Seekers-Feb201356% of Americans agree that now more than ever, they’re pro-actively trying to learn more about the companies they hear about or do business with, according to [pdf] results from latest Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) study. Harris Interactive calls these consumers “seekers,” and contrasts them with “bystanders,” who are not as active in seeking out information. This year, 56% of respondents were classified as “seekers,” up from 50% last year.

That suggests that consumers may be growing more skeptical of marketing communications. Indeed, according to the “2013 Edelman Trust Barometer,” 8 in 10 “informed citizens” from around the world need to hear information about a company more than twice before they’ll believe it. (The report defines “informed publics” as aged 25-64, college-educated, in the top 25% of household income per age group in their country, and reporting significant media consumption and engagement in business news and public policy.)

Results from the Harris survey show that seekers not only are pro-active in seeking out information for themselves, but also in sharing information and trying to influence others. For example, they’re almost twice as likely as bystanders to say they’ve pro-actively tried to influence friends’ or family’s perceptions about a company because of something they learned about how the company conducts itself (47% vs. 25%). And almost three-quarters of seekers have participated in a conversation with others about how a company conducts itself.

These consumers also aren’t afraid to turn their backs on companies whose companies they disagree with: 61% have decided not to do business with a company because of something they learned about how the company conducts itself. That compares with just 41% of bystanders who could say the same.

About the Data: The Harris findings are based on a survey conducted from November 13-30, 2012 among 14,512 general public respondents.

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