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Friends and family still top influencers: Veritas study

Veritas Communications president Krista Webster breaks down key findings from her firm's first-ever Canadian influencer study

Family and friends are still the number one influence on decision-making, according to a new study by Veritas Communications.

The Veritas Canadian Influencer Study found that family (70%), friends (67%) and trusted experts (34%) have the greatest influence on female consumers’ decisions to try a new product or service.

Veritas Communications' Krista Webster

“When marketers think of tapping into influencers, they automatically think of media and social media, and that makes sense because they do have a lot of influence,” said Krista Webster, president and partner at MDC-owned Veritas Communications. “But marketers have forgotten the lost art of tapping into family and friends.”

Webster added that there’s a big opportunity for smart brands to recognize the power of word of mouth. “It’s authentic, it takes time and you have to nurture it,” she said. “For many marketers, things have to happen immediately. But true staying power and true loyalty comes from allowing things happen in their own time… This is the slow movement for earned media.”

Overall, bloggers continue to grow in influence among women, who cite a blogger recommendation as an important trigger to trying a new product or service for the first time (22%). “The voice is authentic [in blogs]. It’s like a friend,” said Webster.

The study also found that trust in new channels is on the rise. While conversations with family and friends tops the list of most-trusted channels for women sourcing information about a product or service (65%), the gap between traditional and new media is closing. The most-used channels for finding information about a new product or service include traditional media (41%), online media (37%) and advertising (30%).

“The trust of influencers in [a female consumer’s] circle is very high and she does not discern between online and offline anymore,” said Webster. “The authenticity of that voice is more important to her than ever.”

In addition, women are more likely to source information from social and digital channels where friends, family or trusted sources post information, including social networks (38% versus 31% national average), online communities (27% versus 25%) blogs (26% versus 19%) or branded apps/tools (22% versus 19%).

Other findings in the survey:

·39% of female respondents consider themselves to be influencers—by more often acting as an influencer than one who is influenced.

·37% of female respondents said people often ask their opinion about what products or services they should consider buying or using.

·48% of female respondents said they actively share news on new products or events with others.

·74% of female respondents have switched from at least one preferred brand in the past year.

·73% said they plan to change preferred brands in the coming year.

·The sectors most frequently cited by female brand switchers are: automotive (39%); online video/gaming (39%); travel service or hotel (38%); alcoholic beverage (34%) and media/entertainment (34%).

·Female consumers are likely to seek out 2.7 sources of information before making a decision on using a new brand or service.

The study of 500 adult Canadians (both men and women) was commissioned by Veritas and conducted by Northstar, an MDC Partners market research and consulting firm.

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