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ZocaloGroup-Consumer-Views-of-What-Constitutes-Online-Recommendation-Aug2013Consumers like brands on Facebook for a number of reasons: some out of loyalty, some for deals, others to get updates. A new study [download page] from Zócalo Group suggests that whatever the reason for a friend’s like, many consumers consider it to be a recommendation. Survey respondents, asked what they would view as an online recommendation to encourage them to try or buy a brand or product, pointed most commonly to YouTube video reviews (46.5%) and a friend liking a brand page on Facebook (46.1%).

Close behind, 45.5% view positive brand reviews as recommendations, and 44.4% consider news articles about the brand or product the same way. A Facebook post that mentions the brand or product is perceived to be a recommendation by about 4 in 10 respondents. Interestingly, 18% consider a banner ad to be an online “recommendation,” proving, perhaps, that some consumers extend recommendation authority to the brands themselves.

When it comes to offline recommendations, being told by someone that they love a brand or product (64.5%) and a friend or co-worker using a brand or product (64.3%) are considered by an equal proportion of respondents to be recommendations. In another notable result, half of the respondents indicated that they would view a TV ad about a brand or a product as a recommendation. Somehow that was a more common response than someone telling the respondent to buy a brand or product, an act viewed as a recommendation by only 44.9%.

As for the most trustworthy recommendation sources, direct in-person recommendations ranked atop the list (63.1%), followed by product reviews (55.2%). There was then a steep drop-off to the other options, such as YouTube video reviews (31.2%), Facebook posts (27.1%), TV ads (20.9%), and Yelp reviews (17.1%). The people most trusted to make recommendations, according to the study, are close friends (79.5%) and family members (73.4%), followed by knowledgeable, passionate consumers (38.8%), co-workers (31%) and product experts (29.5%). Once again, consumer reviews appear to be favored over expert reviews.

The recommender has the most influence over the decision to act on the recommendation, per the study. The content of the recommendation (being told about positive reviews) is the next-most influential part of the recommendation, with prior interest in a product also showing up as fairly significant.

Finally, respondents indicated that they’re motivated to make recommendations most commonly by a positive experience with the product or brand (91%), with about half saying they wanted to help the person they made the recommendation to.

About the Data: Zócalo Group worked with Lab42 to survey 1,000 consumers, equally split by gender across an assortment of geographies and demographics.

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