Consumers, Blogs and Trusted Sources of Information
For many years IFTF research has shown – no surprise here – that trust is a critical factor in people’s decision making processes. More recent research shows that consumers are increasingly information intensive in their product research, and online consumers actively use and trust online information sources in product research.
We’ve recently started a research project looking at how consumers use blogs as part of their product research and purchasing decision processes. Our early results indicate that blogs currently have little or no impact on most consumers. However, leading edge users of online technology are starting to mine blogs for product related information. This is especially true for product categories that are viewed as high cost or high risk purchases (health, technology purchases, cars, etc).
Our preliminary research is showing that leading edge online users are skeptical about blogs as trusted sources of information – even blogs authored by friends. However, often these leading edge users have blogs they trust for product information.
When asked the reasons why they trust certain blogs, the answers generally have to do with: their view of the credibility of the author and content; the amount of traffic they perceive the blog to be getting; the number of other sites linking to the blog; how active the blog is; and the look and feel of the blog. Blogs that rate high in these areas tend to be trusted more than sites that rate low. This is very consistent with studies looking at how online users perceive web sites in general.
The question is will blogs achieve high levels of consumer trust, and if so what kinds of blogs will be trusted?? What will this mean for corporations and how they communicate with their customers?? What role will professional blogs play in customer communications??
Please let me know your thoughts.