51% of Millennials (born between roughly 1977 and 1995) say that recommendations from strangers through user-generated content (UGC) on a company website is most likely to influence their opinion when making a purchase, compared to 49% who say that recommendations from friends and family is most influential, according to [pdf] survey results released in January 2012 by Bazaarvoice. By contrast, Boomers (born between roughly 1946 and 1964) are almost twice as likely to favor recommendations from friends and family over UGC (66% vs. 34%).
UGC Influences Most Millennials
Data from “Talking to Strangers: Millennials Trust People over Brands” indicates that 84% of Millennials report that UGC has some (59%) or a lot (25%) of influence on what they buy, compared to 70% of Boomers. In fact, only 3% of Millennials say that UGC has no influence on their purchase decisions. Millennials’ propensity to trust UGC is related to their perceptions of its value: roughly two-thirds believe it offers a more honest and genuine view online than other sources of information, and 86% say it represents a good quality indicator. In fact, when asked which information they would be most likely to trust when trying to find out more about a brand, product, or service, 51% cited UGC, far ahead of information on the company’s website (16%), news articles on the company (11%), ads (6%), or Facebook posts or tweets from official company accounts (6%).
That may be why they are not willing to complete a range of purchases without first consulting UGC, including major electronics (44%), cars (40%), hotels (39%), and travel accommodations (32%), credit cards, and insurance (both at 29%).
Millennials Suspicious of Brand Motives
Almost three-quarters of Millennials believe that other consumers care more about their opinions than companies do. And 71% believe that companies care about consumer opinions because the opinions impact how other customers view them, rather than because they truly want to know what their customers think (29%).
Slightly less than two-thirds of the respondents feel that companies should offer more ways to share their opinions online in the future, and that they will continue to participate. Opinions are important to not just Millennials, though: according to a survey released in January 2012 by Cint, 62% of global consumers say they are likely to purchase a brand’s product if the brand asks for their opinion in a study, compared to just 3% who are not likely to do so. The majority (56%) also say they feel more loyal to the brand if it takes the time to ask them their opinion, more than double the proportion who say their loyalty is not influenced (24%).
About the Data:The Bazaarvoice survey was conducted among 1,013 nationally representative Americans ages 18 and over by Kelton Research between August 25 and September 5, 2011 using an email invitation and an online survey.