Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Media Democracy B-Side - recommendation

This State of the Media Democracy B-side covers online recommendation, an interesting subject that was mentioned only briefly in the main report.

Social recommendation online remains very much a la mode. With the launch of pinterest, recommendation has kicked into a new gear since consumers can now create their own beautiful, curated shop front of products. The question for us was whether the mass market of consumers were willing to give and take recommendations and therefore give us a hint as to the long term success of the new wave of rich social sharing sites.

Overall we found that people were more likely to take advice than give it. 62% of respondents had bought a product based on online recommendations and 68% had decided not to buy because of negative reviews. On the opposite side of the transaction, only a third of consumers had posted a review.

Further analysis shows that the second statistic masks some interesting underlying trends. It turns out that smartphone users are about 25% more likely to recommend a product than the average and that tablet users are 50% more likely.

With at least 2Mn UK consumers having acquired tablets in 2011 and a further half a million or more in the first few months of 2012, this year could be a year of explosive growth in online participation (as opposed to browsing). Perhaps this is why older demographics showed such high growth in recommendation – over 70% YoY in the over 40’s, who are also more likely to own tablets than other age groups.

The implications for marketers of mass recommendation online are potentially pretty sizable. So far social has been a small part of the mix – good for shifting lots of inventory, but not particularly impactful. In 2012 the marketing and PR community may have to become more sophisticated than just persuading people to hit “like”.

Deeper analysis also revealed something curious. It seems that reading the newspaper makes you more likely to respond to leave comments online. Respondents who hadn’t read a newspaper in the preceding 6 months were 50% less likely to recommend a product. This trend is exhibited to a similar degree in all the markets Deloitte surveyed – it isn’t a random statistical blip.

It seems that years of writing letters to the editor makes one very keen to speak one’s mind! If anyone has a better explanation – I’d love to hear it. I’m a bit baffled!

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