Consumers Trust Internet More Than Friends, Family and Print Media, Study Reveals

Digital Influencer Index presented by Fleishman-Hillard and Harris Interactive Highlights Opportunities and Watch-Outs for Brands Looking to Earn UK Consumer Trust.

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2010 Digital Influence Index

It suggests, definitively, that marketers who do not have end-to-end strategies which put digital influence at the center of their marketing plans are doing so at their own peril. Marketers who 'get it' will be able to leapfrog their competitors who don't.

(PRWeb UK) July 15, 2010

For the average UK consumer, the Internet outweighs all other channels in terms of influencing purchasing decisions. However, how and where brands engage makes all the difference. Buying and selling goods online are examplesof preferred voluntary interactions between consumers and brands and are often trusted. Involuntary interactions are also trusted - such as companies who use Twitter to monitor and respond to consumer issues. For brands looking to engage online, it's vital they understand how and what may register as positive and trustworthy among their consumers - but also realize how this may vary from one country to another. This is one of many key findings revealed in the Digital Influence Index event, presented by Fleishman-Hillard International in partnership with Harris Interactive.

The Digital Influence Index was the subject of a presentation and panel discussion last week about social media and its impact on a variety of industries. The panel explored how social media has changed the landscape for how consumers interact with brands and organizations and explored everything from the revitalization of the National Health Scheme and mum blogger product endorsements to voter activation during the recent UK election and managing an online crisis via social media.

The Key UK Consumer Findings of the Digital Influence Index Include:

  •     In the U.K., 36 percent of online consumers do not read magazines
and 33 percent do not read a printed newspaper.
  •     The internet is absolutely or very important when making decisions to almost 30% of online consumers, more than twice as much as TV (13%).
  •     53% of internet users in the U.K. think that others share too much personal information.
  •     Only 9% of Internet users in the U.K. are concerned about the impact their social media activities could have on their career, compared to over half in China.
  •     Only about half of Internet users in the U.K are comfortable that a company would monitor a person's Twitter account and respond to issues expressed by customers. This is the lowest level of comfort of all studied countries.

The study also measures several key aspects of consumers' use of the Internet, from media consumption patterns, to the degree of adoption of various digital behaviours, to involvement with online social networking. Now in its second year, the Index has expanded to include 48 percent of the global online population, spanning France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Japan and the United States.

"Our survey provides overwhelming evidence that the Internet is at the center of the decision-making process of consumers," said Dave Senay, Fleishman-Hillard president and chief executive officer. "It suggests, definitively, that marketers who do not have end-to-end strategies which put digital influence at the center of their marketing plans are doing so at their own peril. Marketers who 'get it' will be able to leapfrog their competitors who don't."
The Digital Influence Index reveals the following nine key insights into the Internet's global influence on consumers' lives:

1. Funding Gap: Globally, digital dominates in influence but not marketing dollars spent. The Internet is by far the most important medium in the lives of consumers, but companies continue to underinvest in their online marketing efforts.

2. On the Edge: Chinese Internet users are more advanced, but are early adopters, with room to grow. Although the Internet is the most important medium in all countries, it plays an even more critical role in China, home to the world's largest and fastest-growing population of online consumers.

3. Beyond Mainstream: Digital is core to decisions -- for research, purchases and peer influence. The Internet plays an integral role in the decision-making process.

4. Too Much Information (TMI): Online oversharing of personal information isn't just a bore, but a rising threat, as well. As more users embrace social media and generate content, a consensus is emerging -- people share too much personal information, and too little of it is particularly interesting.

5. Cautiously Trusting: People trust the Internet most when they have multiple sources -- and a friend is one of them.

6. Pay to Play Doesn't Play: Trust in bloggers for hire remains weak. Across all countries studied, Internet users report a lack of trust in content produced by sponsored or paid bloggers.

7. Real-Time Trust: Microbloggers trust companies that listen and respond in real time. Users who have adopted microblogging tend to trust companies that monitor their online activity. They seem to view this online listening as a sign that organizations care about their needs and want their feedback.

8. Mobility Gap: As apps multiply and speeds increase, mobile users snap up smartphones -- but realize only a fraction of their potential. Although mobile Internet use is growing, a significant gap exists between the capabilities available to mobile phone users and the number of individuals who actually take advantage of them.

9. Where to From Here?: As Internet use continues to grow, will its influence grow, too? Depends who you ask. As important as the Internet is now, will its consumer influence continue to grow in the future? The answer varies from country to country ... but in China it is a resounding "yes!"

To download a complimentary copy of the Digital Influence Index study, and read in-depth analysis on all nine insights, please visit http://digitalinfluence.fleishmanhillard.com/.

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