June 10, 2007

'I tried it and... '

More and more, consumers are relying on advice from friends, family and even strangers to make purchase decisions, select physicians, choose travel destinations and pick politicians to vote for.

And many of them are giving — and getting — that advice online.

By eMarketer's latest estimates, over 25 million US adults regularly share advice on products or services online.

"For as long as humans have been talking, information has spread by word-of-mouth. But it is only recently that word-of-mouth has become an actual marketing discipline," says Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer Senior Analyst and the author of the new report, Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Winning Friends and Influencing Customers.

According to a BIGresearch study, 91% of US adults regularly or occasionally seek advice about products or services.

In the same study, 94.1% of US adults regularly or occasionally give advice to others about products or services.

"Obviously, nearly everyone is talking," says Ms. Williamson.

And their friends are listening — and being influenced.

Adult Internet users surveyed by DoubleClick chose recommendations from friends as the one type of promotion they consider most worthwhile.

"However, at a time when consumers have more ways to wield their influence and opinion than ever before," says Ms. Williamson, "word-of-mouth represents a double-edged sword for marketers."

Survey after survey reports that consumers consider word-of-mouth more credible than nearly any other kind of marketing, but the more that companies try to control it, the greater the risk of failure.

Courtesy of http://www.emarketer.com

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