Global Survey: Word-of-Mouth the Most Powerful Selling Tool

October 3, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Asia-Pacific | Europe & Middle East | Global & Regional | Newspapers | Out-of-Home | Paid Search | Radio | Social Media | Television

Despite an ever-expanding array of advertising platforms, consumers around the world still place the highest level of trust in other people’s opinions, according to a global Nielsen survey of 26,486 internet users in 47 markets.

Nielsen surveyed consumers on their attitudes toward 13 types of advertising – from conventional newspaper and television ads to branded websites and consumer-generated content.

Recommendations from consumers remain “the most trusted sources of information when consumers decide which products and services to buy,” said David McCallum, the global managing director for Nielsen’s Customized Research Services. The survey yet again highlights the importance of responsive, high-quality customer service, he added.

“And even though new media technologies are playing a role in ‘globalizing’ society, many purchasing decisions are still based on firmly held national and cultural attitudes,” McCallum said.

Among the findings of the Nielsen survey:

  • Though new platforms like the internet are beginning to catch up with older media in terms of ad revenues, traditional advertising channels continue to retain the global public’s trust, at least for now.
  • Ads in newspapers rank second (after recommendations) among all media categories, at 63% overall, while television, magazines and radio each ranked above 50%.


  •  On the other hand, online consumer-generated media and branded websites were trusted by more than half of all consumers.
  • Search engine and banner advertising, along with text ads on mobile phones, each scored at the bottom of the list with less than 35% of total respondents.
  • Filipinos and Brazilians (67%) are the most trusting overall of all forms of advertising, while Danes (28%), Italians (32%), Lithuanians (34%) and Germans (35%) trust advertising least.


  • Although consumer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising among 78% of the study’s respondents, Nielsen research found significant national and regional differences.
  • Word of mouth, for example, generates considerable levels of trust across much of Asia Pacific. Six of the top ten markets that rely most on “recommendations from consumers” are in this region, including Hong Kong (93%), Taiwan (91%) and Indonesia (89%).


  • At the other end of the global spectrum, Europeans, generally, are least likely to trust what they hear from other consumers, particularly in Denmark (62%) and Italy (64%).
  • The reliability of consumer opinions posted online – which rated third, at 61% overall – also varies throughout the world, scoring highest in North America and Asia, at 66% and 62% respectively.


  • Among individual markets, web-based opinions such as blogs are most trusted in South Korea (81%) and Taiwan (76%), while scoring lowest, at 35%, in Finland.


The study covers 47 Markets: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Thailand, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, UAE, United Kingdom, US and Vietnam.

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