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RRDonnelley Consumers Preferred Method for Learning About Brands Nov2021

Nearly all consumers (93%) say friends and family are their most trusted source of information when it comes to brands, products and services. Despite being the most impactful channel for new brand information, the latest report from RR Donnelley found that marketers may be selling word-of-mouth short. 

Word-of-mouth (WOM) has long been a favorite way for people to learn about new products, as nearly half (46%) say the opinions of their friends and family are very important to their purchase decisions. Most WOM takes place offline, which could make it difficult for marketers to attribute it to sales. Earlier data from Engagement Labs shows that while social media, phone calls and text messages play a small role in WOM, two-thirds of WOM takes place face-to-face, accumulating about 14 billion offline impressions per week in 2020.

Per RR Donnelley’s surveys of 250 mid- to senior-level marketers and 1,000 US consumers, only 4% of marketers believe WOM is consumers’ preferred method for learning about a new brand, product or service. Instead, they believe consumers prefer to get information via digital or online ads (36% share) or social media (32%).

However, the accompanying consumer survey found that 3 in 10 (28% of) respondents prefer to get information via WOM, compared to 23% who prefer social media and only 11% who prefer online or digital ads.

Indeed, more than half (55%) of consumers say they have discovered a new brand, product or service via word-of-mouth, while slightly fewer (53%) say they have discovered something new via social media, and 37% say the same about digital and online ads.

Marketers also underestimate WOM when it comes to purchases. While fewer than 1 in 10 (7% of)  marketers say WOM is a channel that results in a purchase, WOM has the highest research-to-purchase rate of the channels measured — outpacing social and online ads. Indeed, 4 in 10 say they have purchased a product they learned about via WOM.

Direct Mail Still Popular With Younger Consumers

As one of the more traditional modes of marketing, marketers say direct mail is one of the most effective ways to reach target audiences, and that adding it to campaigns increases the response rate. Per this latest study, it appears consumers are more comfortable receiving direct mail than ads on websites or social media. In fact, half (51%) of the consumers surveyed agree they are excited to receive direct mail.

Despite being known as “Digital Natives,” Millennials are the most likely to enjoy getting direct mail, with 65% saying they do. While Gen Z (57%) and Gen X (53%) also say they enjoy receiving direct mail, Baby Boomers are the least likely to enjoy it, with a little more than one-third (36%) saying they do.

However, even though marketers report good ROI when using direct mail, only 15% of consumers say they have discovered a new brand, product or service via direct mail. It also has one of the lowest research-to-purchase ratios of the channels measured.

Read the full report here

About the Data: Findings are based on July surveys of 1,000 US consumers and 250 US-based mid- to senior-level marketers.

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